VS. JOIN A FRATERNITY/SORORITY

The university I attended—University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign—had the largest Greek system in the whole country.

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I heard it all the time when I was an undergrad in the theater department there. (How long ago did I go to college? So long ago that I was the only out gay guy in the acting program at a big state school.) Frat boys on campus boasted about it constantly, and feminists on campus complained about it constantly. I'm not sure it's true, and I'm not going to check. Not because "it's a fact that's too good to check," as the saying goes, but because I'm not in college anymore and consequently couldn't give a flying squirrel's cum squart about whose Greek system is bigger—just like I don't care whether or not you, dear reader, pledge a fraternity/sorority.

Contrary to the assertion of my honorable opponent, Mr. Smith, I'm not going to argue that you shouldn't pledge a frat or rush a sorority because they're "expensive, booze-soaked rape dens," although that would seem like a sensible reason to avoid Greek letters, systems, rows, etc.

No, no: I don't think you should join a fraternity or sorority because they're unnecessary and they're a distraction.

You can find gym-sculpted people elsewhere, you can make friends without having them assigned to you, and booze and parties and mortification are built into the college experience—you really don't need to make an effort.

And that's what fraternities and sororities always are—an awful lot of effort. A lot of wasted effort to get in (again, gym-sculpted bodies, booze, parties, regrets, etc., are there for the taking, rush or no rush), and once you're in, you'll be expected to invest a lot of time, energy, thought, and effort proving the Greek system isn't about privilege and exclusion and classism and shitty sex and lousy drugs and crap booze and rape dens. You will have to join committees and plan fundraisers and do "good," not because you want to do any of that (particularly "good") but because frat bros and sorority girls need something they can point to and say, "See! We're not about booze and parties and classism and exclusion and rape dens and the occasional hazing fatality! We're about doing good!"

A frat could raise enough money to find the cure for the Zika virus, and no one is going to believe that "doing good" is why you joined a frat. And "doing good" isn't going to undo the damage invariably done whenever privilege and booze and parties and sex intersect with herd dynamics.

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Being part of the Greek system is work—and for what? A doomed effort to dig the Greek system out from under its deserved reputation for doing harm to its own members, to outsiders, to campus communities, and to blackout-drunk first-year students.

That's reason enough to skip the Greek system.

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