There’s been a disturbing trend of anti-fraternity correspondence printed in the Campus Times as of late, with perhaps the most distressing aspect being that fraternities have little or no means with which to defend their position. It is becoming readily apparent that there are two decidedly separate factions on this campus – namely, those that support Greek life, be they Greek themselves or casual partygoers, and those that do not. Unfortunately, it is more commonly the case that those who choose to criticize the fraternities are often the most uninformed.

The contributions of fraternities to this campus remain grossly unrecognized. Every fraternity is actively engaged in some manner of philanthropic event. Most you’ve never heard of, because the Greek world never felt it necessary to boast about these accomplishments. Rather, they’ve always been a founding principle of our brotherhoods, and as such have been carried out diligently and modestly for as long as anyone can remember. Alpha Delta Phi was founded as a literary society, and the handful of literary events – from guest speakers to writing competitions – reflect those intellectual roots. Similarly, Sigma Chi recently held their annual Derby Days fundraiser, which raised over $3,000 for the Children’s Miracle Network thanks to the effort of 11 teams of girls. Sigma Nu provides yearly visits for the restoration and upkeep of a local YMCA camp, while other houses such as Delta Kappa Epsilon and Psi Upsilon hold collections for food, clothing or whatever other items participants wish to donate.

It is perhaps sad, then, that we have to resort to blatant boasting of these efforts just for the sake of diminishing the overwhelming animosity we face – otherwise the side of fraternities is rarely heard. Stories have been reported on Alpha Delta Phi and Phi Kappa Tau – a name all but taboo on campus nowadays – without thorough explanations of their respective side of the story. Instead, fraternities are presumed immediately guilty and condemned without any manner of fair judgement.

The problem is that fraternities represent the best and worst of things that can be found on campus. There is underage drinking, there are fights, and some brothers engage in further, private activities that are illegal. This is inevitably going to happen when you have an organization of over 50 guys, no matter how hard we try and monitor it.

Yet, it is often only those negative aspects that are ever publicized. Rarely does anyone hear of those brothers involved in every organization, be it governmental, club, or otherwise, on campus. No one recognizes the lessons that fraternities teach their brothers – the real-world lessons that Sigma Phi Epsilon alumnus Scott Rudder ’88 referenced in a Campus Times Letter to the Editor a few weeks back. No one mentions the philanthropies, the fundraising or even simply the countless number of harmless good times they’ve had at the Fraternity Quad when absolutely nothing went wrong. Instead, the focus remains on the occasional fraternity member with drugs – regardless of equal or greater use outside the Greek world – on interfraternity fights and on the perpetual scourge of Greek-university relations – underage drinking.

Underage drinking will never stop. Associate Dean of Students Matt Burns and parent Kathy Adamanski and anyone else who chastises the fraternities for underage drinking within are failing to fully recognize the situation. Yes, students should drink less. But they are not going to, regardless of the myriad activities that Adamanski listed as available in Rochester, and regardless of the danger or potential repercussions. The focus needs to be diverted from how to stop underage drinking to how to provide the safest environment for it. That’s the role fraternities could play.

Fraternities don’t necessarily encourage underage drinking – rather we provide a safe, social environment to get students out of their dorm rooms. Whether those students choose to drink illegally is their own choice.

We simply recognize that if freshmen aren’t drinking in the basement of our houses, surrounded by an entire brotherhood of socially trained individuals with phones and cars nearby in case of emergency, then those students will drink hard liquor in their dorm rooms, either in small groups or alone. This is an indisputable fact, further solidified by the MERT statistics as of late, which show that a decrease in Fraternity Quad drinking has led to an increase in hospital transports.

We realize the foolishness in asking the university to turn a blind eye to underage drinking on the Fraternity Quad – as the administration has clearly established, new policies are in effect to effectively eliminate this altogether.

But at the same time, we wonder how long it will be before a student is found dead in his dorm room, alone with an empty bottle of Jack and no one to blame except himself and the negligence of the university. The student’s parents will not accept that it was their child’s fault. Instead, they will wonder why the university didn’t recognize the growing trend of closet drinking, and, perhaps begrudgingly, provide a safer environment for this drinking to occur.

Meanwhile, we’ll be here waiting, trying to sustain ourselves, alternately on and off probation, until the school realizes this.

Gabler is the chairman of Fraternity Presidents Council and can be reached at

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