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Monday Morning Musings

Posted by mcm0704 on March 24, 2014 |

A frat without alcohol? That was a question posed and answered by Caitlin Flanagan in a column in The Dallas Morning News on Sunday. Flanagan is a journalist who spent a year investigating fraternities for a story she did for Atlantic “The Dark Power of Fraternities.

For some students the “Greek Life” is a major component of their college experience, and partying and drinking are usually synonymous with being a member of a fraternity. Unfortunately the drinking, partying, and hazing has led to assault, rape, and accidental deaths, negative consequences that take away from the goal and purpose of a fraternity.

A few fraternities have taken bold steps to solve those problems, but none as bold as Phi Delta Theta, which in 2000 mandated that all 165 chapter houses become alcoholfree. According to the article by Ms. Flanagan, some people thought it would be the death of the fraternity, but it has proven to be a boon.

Who would possibly want to join a frat without beer? Huge numbers of young men, as it turns out. In the years since the policy was introduced, Phi Delt’s membership has increased 25 percent. The number of men willing to join its alumni boards — to lead and advise undergraduate members — has increased more than 300 percent.

Most dramatically, the number of insurance claims against the fraternity has dropped 64 percent, and the financial severity of those claims has declined an astounding 94 percent. In addition to being one of the safest frats in the country, its reduced insurance liability has made Phi Delt the most affordable.

Kudos to Phi Delta Theta, and here’s hoping more fraternities and sororities follow suit. After all, those organizations are supposed to be about helping to foster leadership. True leadership risks taking an unpopular stance for a more positive outcome.

In reading the newspaper yesterday, I also found this interesting tidbit in a  review of Walter Kirn’s new book, Blood Will Out, The True Story of a Murder, a Mystery and a Masquerade. The book is about a serial liar and murderer known as “Clark Rockerfeller” who was also a friend of Kirn. In the book Kirn reflects on what Clark did, inventing new personas and pulling from real life events to flesh them out. “A writer is someone who tells you one thing so someday he can tell his readers another thing,” Kirn writes. “A writer turns his life into material, and if you are in his life, he uses yours, too.”

People often ask how much of ourselves and our life experiences are in our books, and I think Kirn gave the definitive answer.

What a wonderful way to start off the week and celebrate an amazing talent, I want to share this video of a nine-year-old girl in Holland, Amira Willinghagen, who wowed the judges on Holland Has Talent. Her voice and her choice of music will wow you, too.

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2 Comments

  • Partying and drinking are also a cause of a hidden problem: young men admitted to good schools who have been so brought up that they can’t wait to get there, drink themselves into stupors, fail their first semester or year dismally because of it, and end up back at home wondering what happened.

    I know of a bunch of them, and it is very sad – the school often won’t take them back, especially if they self-destruct badly before leaving.

    Their parents wonder what happened to their promising offspring.

    I think they may just not be ready for the ‘freedom’ suddenly thrust at them, so they band together with other insecure kids and do the same.

    It is a very expensive little failing.

    The fraternity banning alcohol allows these kids to grow up a bit – in a safe environment where they are not teased or bullied because they are the only ones not drinking.
    Good for them – may their numbers increase.

    Alicia

  • Dropping out is a big problem, Alicia, and some kids are not fully grounded when they go off to college. Kids follow the leadership of their peers, so if leadership is flawed the group will go in the wrong direction. It is so hard to break away from the pack.

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