Abolition is the only answer. All social fraternities — alongside the sycophantic sorority life that they exploit — must go. They must go permanently and forever, at Penn [State] and everywhere else. Reform is simply not possible.

… Reform is not possible because the old-line, historically white social fraternities have been synonymous with risk-taking and defiance from their very inception. They are a brotherhood born in mutiny and forged in the fire of rebellion. These fraternities have drink, danger and debauchery in their blood — right alongside secrecy and self-protection.

They cannot reform.

Abolition is “… impossible,” [people] say, their [incredulous] faces a testament to the power fraternity men still wield.

Fraternities may no longer decide who’s in the yearbook, but they still exert control. The proof is in the knee-jerk insistence that they are too formidable to fight. But we must push through this sense of impossibility. What happened to Timothy Piazza was a predictable tragedy, and there will be more unless we end Greek life for good. I make no claims that it will be easy. Fraternities have dominated campuses, defied authorities and rebuffed efforts at suppression for nearly 200 years. But in that time we have ended slavery, given women the vote and put men on the moon. Of course we can get rid of fraternities. College presidents, administrators and trustees just have to muster the will to do it. As for the rest of us, we need to keep pressure on them to do so, and keep counting the bodies until they act.

She’s right that abolition is the only answer. With some exceptions, frats are utterly lawless and defiant and cannot be controlled.

But I’m afraid she’s wrong that we can push through and make presidents, administrators and trustees — many of them rah-rah frat/sorority people — shut them down. First of all, there are large swathes of universities in this country – many of them our big public institutions – that are little more than fraternities and variations on fraternities (athletes are of course one of the variations; as are still almost entirely male groups of trustees, etc., etc.). On-campus or off, formal or informal, male cults and the – what was the word? – sycophantic sororities they exploit are these universities. Abolish the raison d’être of your institution and watch everyone apply to another school.

The second reason is one I noted in an earlier post. The character formation generated by fraternities – cynical, hypocritical, conscienceless, sadistic, status-obsessed, rigidly loyal to the group – is precisely tailored to the American hedge fund. We couldn’t have Bernard Madoff, Dick Fuld, T. Boone Pickens, and Steve Cohen without them.

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