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Are Fraternities and Sororities Essential Elements of Campus Life? Or Dangerous Anachronisms?

Fraternities and Sororities in America
Two guys chest bumping with cups of beer in their hand

I went to Dartmouth, where fraternities still dominate the campus social life.  For decades, the administration of Dartmouth has grappled with how to deal with the negative–even anti-social–elements of Greek life, while still trying to foster the more positive elements.  This has been difficult, as the decades have led to a symbiotic relationship between the College and the Greek system:  they both need each other.

Be Sure to Educate Yourself First

A recent article in The Atlantic, entitled, “The Dark Power of Fraternities,” however, made the hair stand up on my arms with horror.  Mind you, I was not at all surprised by the juvenile, asinine behavior that takes place within the context of Greek life.  I’ve read about this before.  Heck, I’ve seen it before.
Rather, what really made me sit up and take notice is how the members of fraternities and sororities are denied insurance protection by the national organizations: insurance that is ostensibly in place to cover risks associated with adolescent lunacy.

I won’t review the entire article here, but I recommend it to any student or parent who is considering allowing their son or daughter to participate in a fraternity or sorority.  In fact, I would say it is required reading for such families, so that both parent and child can be clear with one another about behavioral expectations, and what sorts of defensive measures a family must take if (heaven forfend!) some sort of tragedy befalls.
This is serious stuff.
Mark Montgomery
Dartmouth Grad and Educational Consultant


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