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Inside Higher Education Recounts Rash of Fraternity Complaints

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Excerpt:

“If you want to improve women’s lives on campus, if you want to give them a fair shot at living and learning as freely as men, the first thing you could do is close down the fraternities,” Caitlin Flanagan wrote. “The Yale complaint may finally do what no amount of female outrage and violation has accomplished. It just might shut them down for good.”

The North-American Interfraternity Conference responded with a letter to the editor, describing Flanagan’s column as extreme. “We understand the means to an end for promotions and publicity. But to disparage an entire institution is unacceptable, particularly for those who carry forward the best behavior, honors and upstanding demeanor that are usually under reported and overlooked.” The letter had not been published as of Thursday evening.

NIC President Peter Smithhisler reinforced his skepticism in an interview with Inside Higher Ed. “I think the goal was to be provocative and outrageous, but I don’t think that’s helpful in an issue that’s facing society and higher education as a whole,” he said, referring to sexual assault in Greek life. “I don’t want the impression that we support any of these negative activities, because we certainly don’t. The incongruence between values and actions is stressful to me. But I don’t think that it’s fair to create broad strokes against all fraternity activities.”

By Hank Nuwer

Hank Nuwer is the Indiana-based author of Broken Pledges: The Deadly Rite of Hazing, High School Hazing, Wrongs of Passage and The Hazing Reader. He has written articles or columns on hazing for the Sunday Times of India, Toronto Globe & Mail, Harper's Magazine, Orlando Sentinel, The Chronicle of Higher Education and the New York Times Sunday Magazine. His new book is Hazing: Destroying Young Lives from Indiana University Press.

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