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Offensive Column Lacked Logic

Guest column by Jay B. Bailyn

I was shocked when I read the column by Stacey E. Blau '98 ["Hypocritical Fraternities Embarrass MIT," Feb. 25]. It came as no surprise that alcohol is present at fraternity parties and that one probably would not have an interesting conversation at some of them. What shocked me was that at MIT, a bastion of science and logic, a product of the school could write something that lacks any sort of scientific methodology or logic. This column criticizes fraternity parties and is written by someone who claims to have never attended one. Every passage or point in the article is either nonsensical or contradicted at some other point within the text.

The second paragraph concerns the proliferation of alcohol and sex at fraternity parties. The next paragraph then comments on how dormitories have just as much alcohol use as fraternities. I am quite sure that everyone is aware of alcohol use in all forms of youth. The only new idea presented is the claim that dorms have personality and fraternities do not. Whether or not this is true is, like the other points made, totally irrelevant to anything else in the article.

Interestingly though, Blau asks for the fraternity equivalent of the crappy Senior House murals which, if I remember correctly, were painted over at MIT's request this year. She then snidely replies with another rhetorical question in which she suggests the answer to be Delta Kappa Epsilon's beer can wall. (Aren't rhetorical questions patronizing and annoying?) It is a reasonable suggestion, though, as both the murals and the beer wall are the byproducts of or the entertainment during the use of some intoxicant.

Apparently in the following paragraph, Blau forgot what she wrote. She states that the real difference is that fraternities are dens of sin where people go to drink and "get laid." This paragraph's rhetorical question asks, "Is this what brotherhood is about?" I'll answer "no," and it never claimed to be so. Drinking, having intercourse, and brotherly love may have loose connections, but I have not been aware of them. Blau must remember that people do more than one activity at a given time. Apparently, she feels that the fraternities lie about brotherhood, unity, etc., in order to attract more freshmen. How interesting that someone who has never been to a fraternity party, and most likely a fraternity, can reject the honor of half of their school. For every two people she sees at school, one is a liar.

The next third of the article criticizes the boasting of both brotherhood and social life in the fraternity World Wide Web pages. Alpha Epsilon Pi's Web page is quoted as saying that AEPi's "mixers give our brothers the opportunity to get to know women on a more personal level." Unlike dormitories, fraternities do not have female occupants, so most interactions with a large group of girls must be planned.

Apparently socializing, especially cross-gender socialization, is a bad idea. After ranting about how rush books claim both brotherhood and socialization, Blau moves on to hazing.

I started this letter with how I was shocked; I was not shocked, but I thought it funny how Blau was after having pledges ask her to sign their hands with a marker. That is all it takes to upset her. A couple of kids excited about running around asking girls to sign their hands seems fairly harmless to me, but the author feels that these kids who asked "beamingly" for a signature, are the victims of hazing. Perhaps part of Zeta Psi's hazing ritual includes brainwashing their pledges into thinking that they are happy.

The remainder of the article is not even worth mentioning as it is mostly worthless ranting. Near the end, though, the author has provided a quotation which I will never forget, "promote the silly cliches like unity and activism." I will not even comment on the previous statement.

I will comment on the last paragraph, though, which mentions the unfortunate accident of the Lambda Chi Alpha president. She forgot to mention that MacGregor House had modified their windows installed on their higher floors because they were losing too much money replacing the windows that MacGregor residents flung themselves out of. MacGregor has almost as much personality as government housing. As does Random Hall, and many of the other depressing, bland, jail cell-like dormitories. At least the LCA incident was an accident. Fraternity brothers prevent their brothers from committing suicide.

I have never seen such an intense reaction to a Tech column despite all of the garbage that has appeared recently. Some people actually like to go to MIT. I am proud to be here; it is one of the best schools in the world. Let us be happy. Anyway, whining is a really poor form of communication.

I hope that this column was somewhat offensive, because Blau's article offended me and all of the other fraternity and sorority members. Many people were deeply offended by this ridiculous offal. I am curious as to why the Blau is so bitter toward Greeks.