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Brotherhood Can Save Lives

I am a scientist, and as such, I am aware of the dangers of using anecdotal evidence to support a claim or theory. Yet after reading the disparaging stories and accounts that have been emerging since the death of Scott S. Krueger '01, stories meant to condemn the entire fraternity system and lifestyle here at MIT, I find myself compelled to present my own anecdote as an alternative view.

I had been a friend of the house for about a year when I started having some problems. I was attacked on campus while walking down Memorial Drive, I was having serious trouble in my classes, and I had been dumped by the love-of-my-life. My year was not going well. Just after midterms, I turned to alcohol. Over the course of just two or three weeks, I managed to get drunk, very drunk, five or six times. I remember the first time I did this in front of my fraternity friends. They were surprised and concerned, even though none of them were teetotalers. Very big-brotherly, they took control. I couldn't go to parties, on-campus or off, without finding a brother who would keep an eye on me, who would encourage me to dance myself to oblivion rather than drink my way there, and who would walk me home and keep me safe. When I came to one of their parties and asked for a drink, I got juice, or soda, and once again, a walk home when the evening was over.

I also got help in other forms. One brother convinced me to go to the police and tell what had happened to me. Others helped me with my classes. They extended their brotherhood to include all those around them, members of the house or not.

About a year later I witnessed a similar example of compassionate caring, this time from the other end. A member of the house was depressed and his brothers were concerned for his safety. I was older then, and a bit wiser, and they came to me for suggestions. Together we got him help, convinced him to seek professional psychiatric assistance, went with him when he wouldn't go alone, gave him support and encouragement, and when things got really bad, kept a 24-hour watch until the crisis had passed.

This is the kind of house that can exist and should exist in every fraternity at MIT. Somewhere things went terribly wrong and Scott Krueger is our silent testimony to that grave misstep, but let's not throw out the baby with the bath water. Fraternal ideals are good ideals. Let's help each house find better ways to implement those ideals rather than abolish a system that has the potential to do so much good. I believe in the fraternity system in MIT. How can I not? I have seen the best of it in action.

Anna G. Fortunato G