A video of members of the SAE fraternity at University of Oklahoma performing a racist chant has been garnering national headlines. It also places a spotlight on the negative aspects of Greek life at institutions of higher education in the United States. Atlantic Monthly magazine writer Caitlin Flanagan conducted a yearlong investigation of Greek problems titled The Dark Power of Fraternities. And Eric Kelderman writes about Greek life for the Chronicle of Higher Education.
Talking about the enduring popularity of the rather old-fashioned tradition of fraternities, Flanagan says:
“You would think if there were something as un-modern, essentially un-modern, as a fraternity -- you know, clubs that are largely all white, clubs that are exclusionary in all sorts of ways and that have real problems in terms of violence against women -- you would think in modern America those would be the sort of things dying on the vine. You’d think there’d be no role for them at all anymore. And yet they are currently at kind of a zenith of popularity. So we’re really stuck here with a system that nobody knows what to do with but that hundreds of thousands of young men absolutely love.”
Asked about the challenges of university oversight of fraternities and sororities, Kelderman explains:
“Universities have struggled with this idea of holding Greek organizations accountable. They’re private organizations, they often live in privately owned housing, and that creates a number of complications …”
Also in the program, former August Wilson Center CEO Andre Kimo Stone Guess and Robert Morris University Director of Special Programs and Student Community Standards offer their perspectives on contemporary fraternity culture.