Letters to the Editor

Mike Toycen

Why the hate? In last week’s Lawrentian, Steve Schnorr wrote about what scares him: the high correlation between federal-level politicians and fraternity membership. To Schnorr, “frat boys rule the United States.” Mr. Schnorr is correct with statistics, but it needs explaining.
For Schnorr, correlation implies causation. He assumes because politicians were overwhelmingly in fraternities – which are overwhelmingly white – that white “frat boys rule the United States” and that being in a fraternity will lead to this supremacy. False – white men for better or worse have ruled this country for over 225 years. The advent of fraternities did not suddenly put them into power. Factors greater than “frats” put white men in power.
Mixing up correlation and causation is an easy mistake to make. For example, there exists a strong correlation between sleeping with shoes on and waking up with a headache; one might assume that sleeping with shoes on causes headaches. However, a third factor is usually the reason: heavy alcohol consumption.
Fraternities in the same way are self-selective. People who join them are overwhelmingly adventurous and outgoing – you have to be for the level of commitment. The fact that many members of congress are also members of fraternities should be of no surprise. To run in a political race one must have the same characteristics. And though it makes for a nice conspiracy theory to assume that fraternities hold a tight network, it’s the voters who elect officials, not other fraternity members.
Fraternity alumni also put great emphasis on the corporate world. Like it or not, it is there that the money is, and money still makes for clout in politics. However, this is hardly applicable to Lawrence, a liberal arts school with a conservatory of music.
Schnorr’s basic goal is to get a rise out of Lawrence fraternities. It’s good to discuss the issues he brings up, but he probably would be better off expressing his opinion at Yale, which still has an active Greek system and has produced many Presidents and Supreme Court Justices. Lawrence is provincial, and without fraternities here no one would be worse off for congressional electoral chances.
I served as president of SigEp for a year, and I would like to assuage the Lawrence community in case it’s actually worried. I can’t speak for the other fraternities, but sans the legendary F.T.B., no Lawrence SigEp is likely to ever get near the hallowed halls of Congress, the Supreme Court or the Presidency. The best I see for SigEps is unemployment or, worse yet, grad school.
There are better conspiracies to entertain: at least three of the last five presidents have been left-handed – as is the writer of this letter. Soon we shall rule the United States.
I eagerly await the h8te.