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Fraternities: Social Death Traps?

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Past the glamour of spilled beer and hazing, lies the historic academic and social foundations of fraternities that lures in bright eyed college students every year.

Greek life is considered by many to be the epitome of the college experience. However, the ludicrous stories that emerge from these houses have attracted their fair share of attention from the media, giving fraternities a bad reputation.

Social fraternities, in particular, take the blame for a great number of student deaths in the past few years. “A recent series of articles on fraternities by Bloomberg News’s David Glovin and John Hechinger notes that since 2005, more than 60 people—the majority of them students—have died in incidents linked to fraternities”. Beyond that, the number of serious injuries and sex crimes related to greek life is astounding and disturbing. Even though hazing is known for its tradition of dangerous rituals, deaths as a result of these actions are minimal in comparison to other causes. The reason we associate fraternities with irresponsibility and hazing is because the stories are interesting, and easily publicized by the media.

So the fraternities have been given a bad name, but if we look through the haze, it would seem that fraternities have legitimate foundations. According to an article in The Atlantic, fraternities have historical roots in that “they emanated in part from the Freemasons, of which George Washington himself was a member.” Not only do they have history, but the fraternities are often beneficial to the colleges and universities that they’re associated with. Caitlin Flanagan of The Atlantic notes, “fraternity men tend to be generous to their alma maters”. In addition, fraternities provide numerous social opportunities for students at no cost to the college, as well as an alternative housing option. By providing students with extended housing, colleges can, and do, increase the number of students they take in, increasing revenue.

Aspiring college students often dream of getting the “complete college experience”, and look forward to carrying the friendships established by fraternal organizations for the rest of their lives. But before fully embracing the greek life, one must consider the possible consequences of housing a group of young and likely rowdy men under the same roof.

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