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… trying not to stare at the Greek letters branded into the arm of a fellow student across from her at a seminar table. What could this degrading mark mean?

UD had much to learn about fraternities.

Sororities too. In the wake of a mentally unstable Northwestern university coed’s suicide, her mother is suing her sorority, and anyone else within a ten-mile range of the place, for neglect, wrongful death, etc. Turns out sororities and fraternities degrade, humiliate, and otherwise torture people who want to join them. Who knew?

UD does not wish to sound unfeeling. But this lawsuit will fail precisely because everyone knows that these organizations are the most perilously perverted locations you can find outside the pages of The Story of O. Enter them at your own risk. If masochism ain’t your thing, avoid them; and certainly if you have a history of mental fragility, avoid them like the plague.

Lots of people like to be hurt or are willing to be hurt in order to be included in a group; but lots of other people have more self-respect than this. And then there’s the category at hand: Some people aren’t emotionally strong enough to undergo protracted torture. You can’t expect the sorority to notice this. On the contrary, sororities often represent a group of women salivating at the spectacle of other peoples’ distress. If I’m not making this explicit enough: They like this kind of thing.

So who’s to blame? NU doesn’t blame the sorority. Sure, the school has suspended them for a decent interval (all schools temporarily suspend on the occasion of pledgedeath), but the place will be up and torturing again in no time. Universities typically consider fraternity carnage the price of doing business. ‘”Kids have died, the university didn’t do sh*t, I’m not really worried,” [a] police officer recalled a 23-year-old [University of Iowa fraternity member] saying [to him].’

As with most suicides, “blame” is not only hard to assign; it’s hard even to invoke as a relevant category. The lawsuit will fizzle; the only likely outcome is the elevation of the sorority’s status: That’s the place where a pledge killed herself.


UD thanks Dirk for the Iowa link.

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2 Responses to “UD remembers, as a Northwestern University undergrad…”

  1. dmf Says:

    my pleasure, has to have flipped out the local bars and small biz bureau to have the cops taking a closer look at their shady operations, clearly that sort of thing can’t be allowed to continue but they need a better spokesperson than this guy who suffers from a slippery tongue:
    “These are social fraternities, not crime syndicates”
    true enough that they do it for pleasure over profit…

  2. charlie Says:

    From memory, suicide is the second leading cause of death for teenagers. Include alcohol, drugs, remarkable pressure to conform, the results will be the tragic death of the young woman in the OP.

    Having worked in k-12 land, I can say that doing well on the AP/SAT, graduating with high ranking, or receiving recognition by people who don’t know you any better than a test score, doesn’t mean the kid is ready for university. What all the above indicates is that you’re very good at doing what you’re told to do and study. It doesn’t mean that a teenager is mature enough to make lucid life decisions. Unis don’t care, they need asses in seats, and student loans to service building debt….

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