A Phi Tau for Halloween?!

Steve Schnorr

As anyone who picks up The Lawrentian knows, fraternities have been a hot issue as of late. As the title suggests, this article is about why I find the Hellenic system hair-raising. However, I’d like to start by saying that Mr. Ross’ article last week was the most courageous and eye-opening article I’ve read in The Lawrentian.
There are plenty of reasons to go Greek, and I am not here to judge any of them. All I want to do is shed a little light on what scares me about the Greek system in the United States. It’s the system that scares me, not the Sinfonian. Try not to take it personally. Hopefully you took the disclaimer to heart; let’s get to the stuff that will probably piss you off.
My freshman year, the life of a frat boy was etched out in no uncertain terms as a positive experience. The promise of better grades, a chest full of alcohol and job connections after graduation all sounded pretty killer.
As a part of the brotherhood courtship ritual, I was offered free buffalo wings, an unending stream of “pre-parties” and even a free pair of “jammies.” Sweet right? As the year progressed, going Greek seemed like the natural progression. I was fitting in with these congenial groups of successful bros who showed a genuine interest in my success at Lawrence … provided that I joined their institution.
Bid week came and went and I decided to keep my $500 and eat at Downer instead. Although the offer of the frat life seemed enticing, something seemed really wrong about it.
My fear of frats stems not from the any “evil” in the frat system, but rather from all the “good” that they do. This set of statistics is taken from the Greek student organization page at George Washington University in D.C. Also, with the goal of being pseudo-impartial, I’ve split them into two categories: scary and not-so-scary.
Stats hotter than Sig-ep basement during Togas and Techno:
1. First Female Senator was Greek
2. First Female Astronaut was Greek
3. Greeks volunteer 850,000 hours annually
Stats scarier than the “Spank Tank” rumor:
1. 40 of 47 U.S. Supreme Court justices since 1910 have been fraternity men
2. 76 percent of all Congressmen and senators belong to a fraternity
3. Every U.S. president and vice president, except two in each office, born since the first social fraternity was founded in 1825 have been members of a fraternity
4. Fraternity members make up two percent of the U.S. population
Just in case you didn’t get the point, frat boys rule the United States. Two percent of the population accounts for an incredibly disproportionate slice of the wealth and power in the country. What really freaks me out is that there are two other things that are also synonymous with power and money in this country: being white and being male.
This fall, Sonia Sotomayor became the fifth ever non-white male on the Supreme Court. Since 1917, there have been 260 female representatives and senators in the United States. Even if 92 years of Congresswomen occupied office at the same time, they would still only make up 48 percent of Congress – three percent less than their population percentage. WTF? Currently the Senate is 83-percent male, 97-percent white. WTF?!?!
So, my Pan-Hellenic phobia comes down to this: There is a mortifying correlation between political power in the US and being: A. White, B. Male and C. In a frat. Frats undeniably do good things for their communities and members. Volunteer work and good grades are sweet, but I prefer mine without a side order of hegemony.
If Lawrence frats really walked a few miles in her shoes, they’d be kicked out of their houses, dissolved by their national brotherhoods and, upon graduation, paid 11-percent less than their male counterparts – scary, right? Think about it.