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sfer

"Underage drinking, sexual impropriety, hate speech"

The details of this case make it likely that a sexual assault took place. But people should not pretend that there is some back up position that can nail these guys if sexual assault was not proven.

It is a real crime or nothing. That is what makes things so hard to determine.

Sherri

As the mother of a daughter in college, I can only hope her college is better.

The 21 year old drinking age seems to have created a "don't ask, don't tell" culture about drinking on campus. Colleges really don't want to be in the business of policing underage drinking, so they look the other way unless forced to do otherwise. Despite my attempts to prepare her, my daughter, who doesn't drink, was surprised at the amount of alcohol she encountered at college her freshman year.

Tim

"no one has ever been able to explain [the benefits of fraternities] to me persuasively"

Well, okay. If you'd prefer not to read yet another effort, you can skip this comment. :) I'm not going to stand up for the fraternity brothers referenced in this story: they deserve to be punished. There were members of fraternities on our campus while I was in school who also did some pretty terrible things. But there were some who did a lot of good, and some kids who I think had positive experiences out of them that did not involve alcohol or even economic privilege and networking.

Take me. I'm a non-drinker who joined a fraternity in college and has not in twenty years hit up one of his fraternity brothers for a job or reference.

At the risk of this being a #NotAllFraternities story, I'd like to explain a few of the benefits I got from my experience. It wasn't a dry fraternity by any means, and in fact, I joined right on the cusp of much stricter enforcement of underage drinking at my school. My freshman year, beer was readily available at fraternity parties; by my junior year, alcohol was no longer a part of our rush program. So one of the things I learned was responsibility, that you can comply with laws and still have a good time, that certain older people will always grumble about how much better it was before the no-fun police cracked down, and that some people will always try to break the law no matter what.

A bit closer to what I think fraternities are meant to be, I learned that to earn someone's trust you have to extend your own, that you can build surprising friendships when you do that, that some people value loyalty for no other reason than that you and they were chosen by the same people and told to trust each other, and that by extension you can see a potential friend in anyone. I also learned that those bonds don't mean as much to some people, that your experience is not the same as everyone else's, that no matter what you think is important about a group, someone else is sure to think something else is more important. And sometimes you can live with that and come to agreement, and sometimes you can't.

Also I learned to have some respect for your elders, but also to be their friend; to demand some respect from the new kids, but also to be their friend. I learned that organizations change, and that the one you joined is not going to be the one you're a member of in three years, or five, or ten. You cannot prevent this; you can either work increasingly hard to change it, sulk and remove yourself from it, or change and adapt.

I was never pressured to drink in my fraternity; the rare times I did were by my choice, for solidarity on some occasion. And granted, we were not a standard fraternity--we used to say our class was made up of guys who came to college determined not to join a fraternity--but I think the above lessons can be learned in any fraternity if the people are willing. And in other college groups, for that matter, but my fraternity forced many of these lessons upon me, where many of my non-fraternity friends did not experience them until much later.

(Also I learned that spur-of-the-moment road trips are where some of the best memories are made, and that some of the best stereotypes about Jewish mothers--the ones involving food--are true, but those seem more specific to my group of friends and less so to fraternities in general.)

Lance Mannion

Sherri, I can't tell you how glad Mrs M and I are that our college guys will be living at home for another few years.

Tim, thanks, and here's the thing, while I'm skeptical about fraternities I always liked my frat guy students. In fact, at HWS the two groups who seemed to like me and my classes best were the frat guys and African American students. Never understood how that happened.

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