Do the mistakes of the few determine the future of the whole?
That is precisely the question raised by a liberal professor and author Lisa Wade, who argues in TIME that colleges should “abolish” fraternities based on the incident at the Penn State fraternity Beta Theta Pi. There, a pledge died because of alcohol poisoning along with other terrible circumstances.
First off, it is important to make clear that in no way am I trying to diminish the severity of the crime that was committed by some members of Beta Theta Pi. What they did was terrible, and they deserved everything that came to them as consequence.
Despite these limited instances, it is still beneficial for colleges to embrace fraternities and greek life as a whole.
When I first started to read the article, I was taken aback when Wade suggested that “young rich men invented ‘social’ fraternities to isolate themselves from their middle-class peers.” As a fraternity member, myself, many of the people I know do not fit this stereotype at all and in no way are considered “rich.” This was certainly not the reason I joined a fraternity.
My brothers and I joined a fraternity so that we could be part of something bigger than ourselves — something that could ultimately turn us into men, and make us into better people than we were before.
There is a stereotype among all fraternities that all we do is drink and have parties, and some even think that we sexually assault women. I will not be the first to admit that some fraternities do fit that stereotype, but that is a very small fraction of fraternities. The common American fraternity that I know well, prides themselves in involvement, academics, philanthropy, and the ultimate goal of becoming leaders.
The biggest misconception when people think about fraternities is that they get bad grades, and often end up dropping out. At my college, and at most colleges in America, the Greek grade point average actually ends up being higher than the university average. For example, my fraternity had a mean 3.02 GPA this semester. This was higher than the university GPA mean of 2.93. Since fraternity men mainly spend a lot of time together, they are not afraid to ask brothers for help when they need it.
Many times, people overlook the fact that fraternities contribute a good amount of time involved in philanthropy. The fraternity that I am in takes community service very seriously, as we are the only nationwide fraternity to have our own organization aimed towards helping others. More specifically at my chapter, members take time out of their Fridays and work with mentally disabled children in grade school. For some of those children, it’s the pinnacle of their week.
When people think about ridding the country of fraternities, they often do not think of the leaders that they produce. In fact, men that were in fraternities make up around 85 percent of Supreme Court justices since 1910, around 69 percent of U.S. presidents, and 120 of the 2013 Forbes 500 CEOs. That sounds like a lot of leaders to me.
The article in question suggests that all greek life must be “abolished.” I ask you, after reading all of the things that fraternities do, is that really the best choice?