Fraternities have been linked to several scandals over the years, from vicious hazing to the racist chant led by members of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon chapter of the University of Oklahoma just a few weeks ago.
Will Ferrell addressed the situation in a recent Q&A for The New York Times. The actor was in a fraternity himself, Delta Tau Delta at the University of Southern California.
“The incident in Oklahoma, that is a real argument for getting rid of the system altogether, in my opinion, even having been through a fraternity,” Ferrell said. “Because when you break it down, it really is about creating cliques and clubs and being exclusionary. Fraternities were started as academic societies that were supposed to have a philanthropic arm to them. And when it’s governed by those kind of rules, then they’re still beneficial.”
However, the 47-year-old also noted that his fraternity experience was a positive one in college.
“I was lucky in that the one I was in, we were really kind of the anti-fraternity fraternity. We couldn’t get anyone to vote on anything, but if you needed 40 guys to show up and build a 20-foot-tall papier-mâché version of the Matterhorn, we were there and ready. But we didn’t take it too seriously. It was just about having fun. But I think it’s an interesting dilemma for universities these days,” he said.
Fraternities and sororities probably did originate with good intentions, providing brother- and sisterhood support systems for college students during what’s sometimes a difficult life adjustment for young adults.
But do they still serve the same purpose?