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Lofty Claims, Fabrications Undermine Greek System

Guest column by Sean W. McGinnis

The column by Stacey E. Blau '98 ["Hypocritical Fraternities Embarrass MIT," Feb. 25] was an exercise in poor writing and poorer judgement. While Blau is certainly entitled to her opinion, she should have saved herself the time and embarrassment of writing this column. Basically, any opinion that contains the words, "I've never been to a frat party. I've heard" should be taken with several buckets of salt. Of course, Blau builds from this unshakable foundation a tower of lofty claims, gross generalizations, and blatant fabrications that attempt to undermine the fraternity system and turn the rest of the MIT community against it.

I take offense at a number of these claims, but I'll only address a few particularly offensive slights against fraternities. The claim that fraternities have no personality because we choose not to scrawl all over our walls is nearsighted, absurd, and self-aggrandizing. Cavemen drew rather elaborate murals all over their homes, but I doubt one would, upon meeting them, find that they had much personality.

I am also offended by the claim that fraternity life is based on alcohol. Since she's never been to a fraternity party, I would assume that Blau has never met one of the many sober - that is to say, they never touch a drop - brothers whose social lives in the fraternity are just as full and enjoyable as those of brothers who drink. And I fail to see the distinction between drunks in a dormitory and drunks in a fraternity. But, of course, Blau did all her research on the World Wide Web, so we must all be alcoholics. I'm surprised I can type so well, considering how drunk I am.

My last criticism is a nitpick, but it affects me personally. My fraternity, Zeta Psi, had an entire paragraph dedicated to our cruel and unusual hazing practices. I won't even touch on the body-signing incident - it is, indeed, unbearably painful to have fun and meet women with some of your brothers. What really bugs me is Blau's inability to communicate. In the last sentence of that paragraph, Blau states that a "certain fraternity" makes their pledges "scrub the house floor in the nude" and "streak in the streets." Now, I know which fraternity she's referring to - we've all heard the rumors and, frankly, I'm much less inclined to believe them after hearing them from Blau.

But, in context, it sounds like Blau is talking about Zeta Psi - 90 percent of the people I've talked to have interpreted it that way (of course, being in fraternities, a lot of them were probably drunk).

All in all, Blau's poorly informed column was some of the worst "journalism" I've had the pleasure of reading since my high school newspaper. I am sorry that Blau's experience with the fraternity system has led her to spray such bile at us, but one would think that a person with so much spite would have more substance to back it up.

I've been a member of Zeta Psi since rush of my freshman year, and I've never regretted it for a second. Except for when I was drunk, but then I just passed out and forgot everything.