Most of the research about fraternities and academic performance comes to the same conclusion: Membership in a fraternity is consistent with lower grades and diminished intellectual capacity.

… Just why the link exists is the subject of speculation. Here’s a possibility: Maybe it’s because fraternity members drink so much alcohol? One study by the Harvard University School of Public Health found that 86 percent of students who live in fraternity houses were binge drinkers, almost double the rate of other students.

Another theory: Time that could be used for studying is spent on fraternity activities, especially during the periods when aspiring members are undergoing humiliation or torture in disgusting or inane initiation rites.

Yet another possibility is that fraternity members skip more classes than other students, and lost class time tends to correlate with lower grades. Think excessive drinking plays a role there?

James Greiff’s 2013 opinion piece about fraternities provides some context as we follow ever more grueling accounts of the Passion of Timothy Piazza, the latest – and most high-profile – victim of marauding bands of drunk male idiots.

The beauty of these bands is that they thrive under the protection of our universities.

Usually manslaughter by fraternity occurs more straightforwardly than in Piazza’s case – you’re tortured to death while being hazed – and this blog has covered several of those sorts of stories over the years (put FRATERNITY in my search engine if you can stand it). Certainly forced alcohol poisoning, which Piazza endured, is often part of routine beaten-to-death incidents. But Piazza’s tortured end featured two unusual elements: His long dying was filmed by a security camera; and he died from a level of neglect you’ve probably never encountered – maybe never imagined – before. Vomiting, bruised, in agony, his limbs literally stiffening in front of his fellow drunks’ eyes, Piazza attracted little attention beyond mocking laughter, Snapchatting, and rough, random efforts to change his position so he wouldn’t choke on his vomit.

“Maybe there is a place for fraternities as hothouses for future alcoholics who engage in sometimes violent behavior,” concludes Greiff; but it is important to be very precise about the nature of these hothouses. They are secret all-male anarchic holes given cover and legitimacy by universities, of all places; their torture and killing goes on right next door to the school of theology; and everyone agrees to pretend that their charity car washes make their members something other than alcoholic sadists.

It is time to liberate these men from the stifling rules of universities – rules they don’t follow, true, but which can, in the aftermath of one too many deaths, come down on them like a ton of bricks. The fraternity hothouse has never been a very good match with universities, but it is a perfect match with outlaw motorcycle clubs. Transfer them out of the university and put them under the umbrella of the Hells Angels, the Pagans, the Outlaws, and the Bandidos.

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