fraternities: failed socialization

first blogged on G+
The Dark Power of Fraternities - The Atlantic: American students sought to wrest themselves entirely from the disciplinary control of their colleges and universities, institutions that had historically operated in loco parentis, carefully monitoring the private behavior of undergraduates. The students of the new era wanted nothing to do with that infantilizing way of existence, and fought to rid themselves of the various curfews, dorm mothers, demerit systems, and other modes of institutional oppression. If they were old enough to die in Vietnam, powerful enough to overthrow a president, groovy enough to expand their minds with LSD and free love, then they certainly didn’t need their own colleges—the very places where they were forming their radical, nation-changing ideas—to treat them like teenyboppers in need of a sock hop and a chaperone. It was a turning point: American colleges began to regard their students not as dependents whose private lives they must shape and monitor, but as adult consumers whose contract was solely for an education, not an upbringing. "The doctrine of in loco parentis was abolished at school after school. Through it all, fraternities—for so long the repositories of the most outrageous behavior—moldered, all but forgotten. Membership fell sharply, fraternity houses slid into increasing states of disrepair, and hundreds of chapters closed."
Deaths are only a small part of the total injuries and problems associated with Greek life on campus and this article takes a long look at fraternities, their history and impact. There is some insight into why fraternities never seem to suffer much from their poor track record and steeply mounting costs:
Today, one in eight American students at four-year colleges lives in a Greek house, and a conservative estimate of the collective value of these houses across the country is $3 billion. Greek housing constitutes a troubling fact for college administrators (the majority of fraternity-related deaths occur in and around fraternity houses, over which the schools have limited and widely varying levels of operational oversight) and also a great boon to them (saving them untold millions of dollars in the construction and maintenance of campus-owned and -controlled dormitories).
And there are schools that do not allow fraternities:
Fraternities and sororities in North America - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia: "Some colleges and universities have banned Greek letter organizations with the justification that they are, by their very structure, set up to be elitist and exclusionary. The most famous, and oldest ban was at Princeton (Leitch 1978), though Princeton has now had fraternities since the 1980s.[25] Oberlin College banned "secret societies" (fraternities and sororities) in 1847,[26] and the prohibition continues to the present.[27] Quaker universities such as Guilford College and Earlham College often ban fraternities and sororities because they are seen as a violation of the Quaker principle of equality.[28][29]"

By Seattle Municipal Archives from Seattle, WA
Fair housing protest, 1964  Uploaded by Jmabel
 CC-BY-2.0 , via Wikimedia Commons
The author also notes the change in the way universities regarded their students. (Hello to those pesky helicopter parents as in loco parentis expired.) The article tends to blame dissolute youth. This explanation underestimates the economic, political and personal stresses of that time on young and old alike. The view that hard-to-handle young people drove these policies also diminishes the very real struggle of the poor, the young, and minorities to get greater access to the post-war economic expansion centered in the growth of the national security state.

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