PSU news by
Penn State's student blog



Caitlin Flanagan Speaks On Fraternity Culture At Foster-Foreman Conference

Caitlin Flanagan, contributing editor to The Atlantic, outlined to students and community members the complex and often deviant nature of fraternities at the State Theatre on Tuesday night.

Flanagan, who spoke as part of the Foster-Foreman Conference of Distinguished Writers, wrote a feature for The Atlantic in 2014 titled The Dark Power of Fraternities. The article examines the criminal behavior within Greek organizations, and how universities and fraternity members silently disregard it. The writer, an alumna of the University of Virginia, described her own experience with sororities and fraternities somewhat positively.

“I did have a lot of fun at the parties there, and I myself joined a sorority,” but, she added, “the fraternity system baffled me. No one was really looking at [the Greek system] from the outside.”

Flanagan could not understand how there could be “a Greek system for the white students,” and a separate “system for the multicultural students,” or how “rapes took place with some regularity at these fraternity houses.” By the sound of things, fraternities supported segregation and sexual assault, but how could this be if the president of the university lived across the street from a row of fraternity houses? “I wanted to know how it could be in the modern world that [fraternities are] stronger than ever,” she said.

“Most guys in frats are good guys,” Flanagan stated, but “a small fraction of men are something else. They are not bad apples, they are not creeps; they are criminals and sadists. Once they get into a fraternity, it is an ideal situation for them.”

Flanagan said that reform to the fraternity system is slow because there are not enough sanctions being placed on fraternity brothers. “If they lived in an urban environment, or were African American, would you call them a bad apple? They would be fast tracked into incarceration,” she said. “We would treat them very harshly.”

Flanagan cited that most universities, in an effort to reform, will create task forces in response to on-campus sexual assaults. Unfortunately, “universities don’t have a lot of power over fraternities,” and task forces are ineffective. The best way to reform is by having the courage to tell your stories, Flanagan said. These include stories from hazing victims who were physically or emotionally injured, or female students who were victims of sexual assault by a fraternity brother or in a fraternity house.

The second speaker of this spring’s Foster-Foreman Conference is Kimberly Dozier, a former combat correspondent for CBS who was embedded in Iraq. Dozier is currently the General Omar. N Bradley Professor in the Army War College and a visiting professor at Penn State’s Dickinson School of Law. She will speak this morning at 10:10 a.m. in the HUB’s Freeman Auditorium.

Your ad blocker is on.

Please choose an option below.

Sign up for our e-mail newsletter:
Support quality journalism:
Purchase a Subscription!

About the Author

Claire Marchon

Contributor for Onward State, from the San Fransisco, Bay Area. I am probably the biggest Simon & Garfunkel fan you've ever met; I might also be the only Simon & Garfunkel fan under 50 you've ever met. Either way I think it is very important you know I love Simon & Garfunkel.


State College Links
Follow on Another Platform
Other posts by Claire

The Problem With Yik Yak

The mint green application is relatively straightforward: It features a page filled with 200 character maximum, anonymous posts. In between the dozens of expressions of sexual angst and harmless jokes, however, there are posts written by students who abuse the opportunity for perceived anonymity.

Penn State’s Tea Institute Is Steeped In Asian Tradition

Penn State’s Funniest Students: Meet Full Ammo Improv

Snow Cancels January 17 On-Campus Activities & Work

Students already had classes off in observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

Snow Cancels January 17 On-Campus Activities & Work

Students already had classes off in observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

Previewing Penn State’s 2022 Quarterback Room

With three-year starter Sean Clifford set to return for 2022, here’s a look at how he compares to the rest of the young quarterback room.

Penn State Revoking Canvas Access For COVID-19 Testing Non-Compliance

Previously, non-compliant students were placed on interim suspension if they missed three consecutive weekly COVID-19 tests.

Send this to a friend