Why colleges tolerate fraternities

Why colleges tolerate fraternities

Frats are… fratty. Why do colleges keep them around?

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In this episode of Overrated, Vox’s Phil Edwards explores the history of frats.

The history of fraternities has a lot of ups and downs — and stretches all the way back to America’s founding fathers. Beyond the hazing and beer chugging, there’s a story that includes changes in higher education and even national politics.

So why do colleges keep fraternities on campus? The reason is a web of incentives that make fraternities allies to administrators — despite the negatives they sometimes present.

Overrated is a series that takes a look at the things we all know — the books, the trends, and the ideas that have become iconic — and answers the question: “Why is this so famous”?

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108 Responses

  1. Ayoub says:

    how fortnite got so overrated

  2. Harshil Patel says:

    I think Greek life exploits the human desire to belong and feel wanted.

    • Guts Puck says:

      I see, thx!

    • bdsmStore.com says:

      Harshil Patel
      Go shopping at our online store
      Show the frats some love and support

    • PrimiusLovin says:

      I guess that’s why I never really liked fraternities, because I’m more worried about seeking my independence and identity than being assimilated by group culture!
      In fact, I guess that’s why I’ve never been part of any kind of gang/group, except of course companies. E.g, I like motorcycles but I’ve always ridden alone, or with just a friend or two.

    • Platinum Diamond says:

      yeah, for low IQ morons who can’t be independent or think for themselves.


    Why do American universities even need fraternities?

    • Wayne Hayes says:

      +Faraae gender studies like most social sciences is an academic profession. The people who go in that field become professor, reaserchers, philosophers and consultants for business and government. They generate income by writing papers academic journals, writing books and advisory roles.They contribute to society by studying hunan behavior and how gender effects society.

      Like other academic fields it’s not a trade based on skills rather analysing abstract concepts. One needs to become an expert in the area of study usually to find any success. Which means going to graduate school.

      the idea that any field of study is useless is bit outlandish. Given our complex modern society.

    • Tyler says:

      Some universities have Fraternities/Sororities and some do not. In any case, I would say not university needs a fraternity, however the pros and cons they offer should be taken into account when deciding whether to have them on your campus.

    • W Clark says:

      To make the raping easier and more fun.

    • prede89 says:

      because unlike the rest of the world, they are not given enough money from the state. In europe many countries provide free or cheap education, and so colleges are fully funded. Not so in the US. And to be fair to the US, more and more emphasis is being taken away from professors, and given to administration, many many more jobs are created there and they have lost their emphasis on teaching…those are big money jobs and they need a way to pay their salaries. The US has failed miserably, but colleges hurt themselves too.

  4. Pikapetey Animations says:

    It’s no longer faternaties… it’s now fandoms, and furries.

  5. Fraser Watson says:

    I’m from the UK so fraternity’s just seem like the weirdest thing

  6. Gavin says:

    Really? I thought they had a bad rep…

  7. Science with Katie says:

    Glad to hear they’re overrated, when legally blonde came out going to an American college and being in a sorority looked like the most fun ever! 💁🏼‍♀️

    • Danielle Spargo says:

      Yeah, I never wound up going to one though.
      I think I’m glad now that I didn’t
      Seems like a bimbo gathering, now that I look back

    • Ike Okereke says:

      Aren’t sororities, a part of Greek life too?

    • Ashkan says:

      JadedGems no I didn’t? Where did you get that idea, my frat had a few kids who were low income and didn’t pay anything. Is about the experience regardless of class.

    • Fick Gnarley says:

      +Ashkan exactly. My dad was unemployed and my mom made 45000 dollars when I rushed. It’s not all wealthy people. And I honestly believe that I make more than both of them combined now strictly due to Greek life. Helping me keep my gpa up and numerous connections benefited me a lot

    • bdsmStore.com says:

      Science with Katie
      Go shopping at our online store

  8. Hussein Naji says:

    so the Illuminati was a fraternity? wow

  9. Hussein Naji says:

    this also goes to show how universities really dont care about their students, only money

  10. jamesthemaniac says:

    Still Seem cultish to me. I dont want anyone telling who my friends should be.

  11. Jhonny Yang says:

    Fraternities are such an American concept. To us the rest of the world, fraternities are dumb excuses for clan mentality and made up positions of power with no real power other than the one they grant themselves inside a hirearchy with no real meaning outside said fraternity.

    • trafo60 says:

      “no real power other than the one they grant themselves within their own hierarchy with no real meaning outside”
      That’s like, the definition of power

    • Sebastian Mustermann says:

      That’s actually untrue. Fraternities are a fairly prevalent part of university life in many countries, for example all German speaking ones. It wasn’t an american invention and is not exclusive to North America.

    • Sebastian Mustermann says:

      +ET Not always. The German word for them: “Burschenschaften” is a literary translation of “fraternity”.

    • Lycaon 1765p says:

      That’s literally all clubs ever.

    • MultiZimbabwe says:

      Worth noting that a fraternity in Germany gave it its flag’s colours, helped inspire a failed democratic revolution in Germany, and arguably helped inspire the unification of the German States. Good idea to look up what you’re talking about before commenting.

  12. surfie007 says:

    Australia doesn’t have fraternities. Is it just a US thing?

    • Soufian 27 says:

      They’re in Belgium too

    • WakeupGrandOwl says:

      We have them in Canada… *apparently* , but I’ve never seen or noticed them in any capacity. ‘Frosh week’ aka drinking and partying and generally being a dumbass after you move into campus dorms occurs during the first week of classes and tends to be a lot tamer than what happens in the US… Probably because classes are already under way. It’s Orientation for most classes but some programs and professors are hardasses and assigned work is immediate. Frosh week activities are often supported by and organized by committees of student groups affiliated with the college/uni itself.

    • Redsoxking says:

      surfie007 the reason we’re the best!

    • Christian Lungescu says:

      C’est une coutume anglophone. Although je crois qu’il y en a une ou deux à l’UdeM.

    • YASSS Kari says:

      Unfortunately yes

  13. Hotel July says:

    So once again, turns out money ruins everything. Good to know.

    • the qupoiu says:

      +NoiseFeedMusic It takes one to know one.

    • Will Ritter says:

      not all fraternities are rich though… I’d be honored if some retro music fans would check out my acoustic piano & vocal covers of 80s/90s classic songs on my channel. Covers include Sting, Prince, George Michael, Phil Collins, Tom Petty, the GooGoo Dolls, Sarah McClachlan, Billy Joel, Earth Wind & Fire, plus a couple of ‘010s classics from Bruno Mars and Coldplay. Live acoustic with no autotune. Thanks and peace.

    • Madison M says:

      The love of money is the root of all evil

    • Dream Delirium says:

      +Will Ritter Gross.

    • i'm just a spectator says:

      +Madison M My P.O box is 500 Main Street #69. Send me all the evil money you have, I’ll get rid of it the proper way. 😉

  14. Cats Cats says:

    This is such an alien concept in UK+Ireland

  15. theMoporter says:

    We don’t have these in the UK. It’s weird and kind of terrifying from our perspective.

  16. Make Racists Afraid Again says:

    My older brother was in a Fraternity.
    He describes it as a “legal gang”.

  17. Erik C 'Piano Man' says:

    I live in a college town and I’m all for frats and the like as long as they keep to themselves but every start of the semester it’s like a war zone in town with the frats and sororities.

    Garbage, broken beer bottles strewn across the streets, hoards of ppl that just walk in the middle of a busy road because they can’t be bothered to wait for cars to pass or cross at at crosswalk, etc.

    You get the idea. Usually things calm down after a few weeks once classes get started but you can party and have fun w/o acting like a bunch of animals.

    • Rebecca Goll says:

      Can you do a video on sororities?

    • Rebecca Goll says:

      +Ark Mantony at my school a lot of the sports teams have unofficial houses. The parties at those are way worse because there is no system holding them accountable. The fraternities always have sober monitors and some have people to walk you back if needed. The frats also at offical parties card everyone and sometimes have lists so only college students come and they know who was there in case something does happen

    • Ark Mantony says:

      @Rebecca Goll exactly, in university I DJ’d for a Fraternity’s house parties and they were some of the best operated. They pre-sold tickets with a guest list to ensure the house never reached above capacity, had a rotating door shift of sober monitors to keep the lawn clear & monitor noise, and would schedule clean up for the following morning to make sure there wasn’t trash and bottles all around the neighborhood. Because they were so aware of the bad reputation fraternities usually have they always went the extra distance.

    • Traplover7 says:

      um, humans are animals so if you want to be technical and dont understand the connotative meaning of “animal”

    • bdsmStore.com says:

      Erik C ‘Piano Man’
      Frats love our adult toys from our online store

  18. CGagnon5 says:

    Frats are perfect for people who can’t make friends so they have to buy them

    • ProVideoGamer says:

      +MH5tube r/woooosh

    • William Damron says:

      Found the poor person. Don’t worry about paying for dues or admission fees as you most likely will not be invited to them. Go sit in a corner of the library.

    • CGagnon5 says:

      William Damron hahahah. Way to make yourself and other frat Bros looks like the tools you are. And you wonder why everyone hates you? I cringe any time someone at work mentions the frat they were in in college.

    • William Damron says:

      Literally no one cares. Your failed attempt at edginess is pathetic. Go be upset about something that matters. Are you capable of that?

    • Pierce T says:

      Your dues pay for things to do WITH the other brothers/sisters in 99% of the time. Like socials, parties, trips, etc. I got exposed to a lot of unique things I simply would have had the opportunity of without a fraternity. New friends came from the process and being handpicked and offered a look. I liked what I saw and went at it.

  19. Abhilash Nair says:

    “How fraternities got so overrated” *changed* to “Why colleges tolerate fraternities.” 😂

  20. Matt Cussen says:

    I was a president of a fraternity when I was in college. When I joined my fraternity, we only had 7 members. We were basically a group of guys that drank beer and played video games. I made it my mission to build our fraternity into an example for other fraternities. I was tired of the reputation that shitty fraternities were giving to the greek community as a whole. I was able to grow the fraternity to 44 men who were devoted to being philanthropic, gentlemen to people on campus, and treating women with respect. I would always ruffle feathers when attending greek presidents meetings with the other fraternities, but that was my goal. I want to see douchebag, sexual assault haven fraternities destroyed and respectable fraternities brought back. I never understood the desire to join a frat just to be a drunken ignorant buffoon for your college years. While we certainly had big parties, we made damn sure to have sober brothers watching out for everyone’s safety and good time. I just hope that more fraternities learn from these bad examples that are being spotlighted.

    • Labyrinth9000 says:

      How did you “ruffle feathers”. Was it all the presidents giving you the stink eye about what you represent and enjoy?

    • Graup says:

      It is possible that I misunderstand the workings of American fraternities. Like I said. My point is coming from my knowledge of the workings of German fraternities as an exclusive club with certain rituals. An organisation, as one would say. And every other organisation except for a sports club maybe would get called out for excluding a group of people for example based on their gender. Now German fraternities also supply perks like very affordable housing and social connections. Things that have an impact on members’ lives outside of social gatherings.
      So no, a group of guys hanging out without a woman isn’t sexist. But a group of guys specifically excluding women for the sole purpose of excluding women is. And that’s what fraternities are at their base level.
      We might have to agree to disagree here and don’t get me wrong, what you call ‘good fraternities’ is objectively better than stereotypical ones and I appreciate your effort. But in my opinion the concept of fraternities has no place in modern society. A ‘good fraternity’ an illogical concept. A fraternity can be better, but until it stops discriminating against groups of people because of who they admit (it should go without saying that I mean based on what they were born as not based on who they are) it can never be good.

    • Paul says:

      Sounds like a big white knight

    • Graup says:

      Paul that too!

    • Paul says:

      +Graup Also nothing is wrong with excluding a group of people. By your same logic the NFL or NBA is something bad.

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