Biased attack on greek life ignores its positive impacts
After reading the March 11 column, “Do universities need to reconsider value of greek life?” I felt the need to respond to its blatant butchering of every statistic presented. Please bear with me as I, the completely sober fraternity brother (hard to believe right?), systematically dissect the column.
To begin, it quotes the National Institutes of Health by saying “alcohol takes 1,825 student lives annually.” It then goes on to try to relate the amount of deaths to fraternity and sorority members without giving any statistics that directly correlate deaths due to the providing of alcohol by fraternities. Now yes, the National Institute on Alcoholism and Abuse says fraternities and sororities drink more, but that does not mean that more people die because of them. These statistics are separate and poorly related. The column does not provide any more connecting statistics about greek-related drinking habits. In fact, it quotes an “old but still reputable” Harvard study (emphasis on “old”). This Harvard study, called the College Alcohol Study, began in 1993 and ended in 2001 (Kiewra). I, a senior, was a year old in 1993. The author is judging my fraternity experience on people who went to college over 20 years ago.
Let’s move on to the column’s “fraternity expert,” Caitlin Flanagan, from The Atlantic. This “bombshell” was on the Colbert Report on March 3. I typed into Google, “Caitlin Flanagan Colbert Report,” for the video. Flanagan says she is not entirely opposed to greek life, also mentioning the leadership training, mentoring and “millions of hours of community service” for worthy causes.
The column mentions that Flanagan’s report cites 21 counts of “… severe falls from off or out of buildings,” which are fraternity residences. These 21 counts, which the author implies are due to alcohol by mentioning the Washington State Alpha Kappa Lambda incident, had to be included in the NIAA study. That means they are 21 out of the 599,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 that are unintentionally injured under the influence of alcohol each year (College Drinking).
The other “troubling feature” of greek life mentioned in the column, the racial homogeneity that plagues some fraternities and sororities, is something that I must comment on: The Rutgers greek community is the largest community in terms of greek organizations in the country. We have African-American, Asian-Interest, Latino, South Asian, multicultural, professional and very well diversified social fraternities and sororities. No racial homogeneity here!
My last remarks will comment on the author’s theories of fraternities creating pipelines of power and future, and in his biased opinion, evil presidents. It’s true. We are successful members of society. With that being said, the author calls himself a “journalist” and a history and political science major. For your viewing pleasure, here are a few fraternity brothers that may be more relatable:
1. Nobel prize-winning author, William Faulkner.
2. American radio and television personality, Dick Clark.
3. First man to walk on the moon, Neil Armstrong.
4. And for the ladies, I present to you Katie Couric, news anchor and talk show host.
Do you like sports? Pick a team. I also present John F. Kennedy, brother of Phi Kappa Theta, Woodrow Wilson, brother of Phi Kappa Psi, and Franklin D. Roosevelt, brother of Alpha Delta Phi. Just in case you don’t know, these are all presidents.
I offer an open invitation to Mr. Socialist to go through recruitment. We offer anyone the chance to ride the “pipelines to privilege and power.”
Mike Rowe is a School of Arts and Sciences senior.