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Fraternities Provide Family, Community

Fraternities Provide Family, Community

The particular occasion for the most recent shallow fraternity-bashing column by Stacey E. Blau '98 ["Hypocritical Fraternities Embarrass MIT," Feb. 25] was the accident which befell the president of Lambda Chi Alpha. The column blamed it on the alcoholism and general lack of control demonstrated by fraternity males. Leaving aside the unbelievable poor manners apparent in insulting a family, which the brothers of Lambda Chi Alpha do consider themselves, the author suggests a surprising ignorance (or not so surprising if one read Tuesday's column) of the historical record.

The last president of an MIT living group to have fallen and sustained a serious injury was the former president of Senior House, David G. Moore '91. In 1990, Moore fell off a balcony and died. Was it a drug overdose? People wonder, but Senior House, which was understandably sad, at least was not blamed as a whole for not looking out after one another. Fraternities do aspire to this ideal of looking out for each other, and accusing the brothers of LCA of negligence is akin to yelling at a parent about after their child ran into traffic and was hit by a car.

Now I am given to understand from last week's column that the Sunday "vomit trail" tells the whole story about the irresponsible drunken sex that fraternities promote. I must admit that most of my brothers would be happy if their Dionysian fantasies were played out on a regular basis, but this doesn't relate to whether or not brothers care about each other. Blau claims as much when she says dormitories are just like fraternities, minus the self-righteous and unsubstantiated claims of brotherly love. I could point to a host of examples, like Chocolate City, which suggest fraternities are not unique in their quest for close friendship. However, I prefer to present my second thesis, which subsumes the first and is broader in its explanatory power.

My thesis is that fraternities give people a constructive outlet for their desire to take part in a community. This explains why so few fraternity members write for The Tech; they already have friends and do not need another bunch of people to hang out with. This also explains why the fraternity GPA is higher than the campus average - fraternity males are on average happier, and so it is easier for them to get their work done. This thesis also explains why fraternity members give back more money per student to their alma mater than average - fraternity members feel more closely connected to MIT through the group of people that they have met here whom they are close to.

This thesis also explains why people write letters to the The Tech - the people who are unhappy are those without anything better to do than write a letter. I am almost embarrassed to be writing myself, but I think Blau's column demands a response.

I don't think The Tech would have printed a letter insulting all the black and hispanic men on campus. This is too broad a group to have anything real to say about them, negative or positive, that could not be said about all people. The Tech similarly erred in printing Blau's letter, which caricatured all fraternity males as irrational drunken maniacs.

John D. Dunagan '98