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A Movement Against Frats

The Atlantic Monthly has published a 15,000-word piece by Caitlin Flanagan, a former staff writer for the New Yorker, that seems to have as its goal to prove the perniciousness of fraternities (she does not cast her gaze even for a moment on sororities). The focus shifts repeatedly: how often students fall from the upper stories of frats; how the houses defend themselves against litigation; the influence that the Greeks and their alumni have on institutions of higher learning; the incidence of sexual assault (though the only example cited is of a frat house guest assaulting a freshman). Regrettably, not a statistic is to be found in the article: for example, it would be interesting to compare how many accidents occur in fraternities with how many similar events occur in dorms.

Atlantic Fraternity Piece.jpg

I guess that the goal of such impressionistic writing is to leave the reader with the impression that frats are bad, very bad. That assertion may well be true, but Flanagan doesn’t prove her case.

Beyond that point, why did the Atlantic’s editors devote so many pages to a rambling piece like this? Might we take their decision as an indication that there is something of an ongoing groundswell against the Greeks?

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