Fraternities, sororities and football, along with other outsized athletic programs, have decimated most major American universities. Scholarship, inquiry, self-criticism, moral autonomy and a search for artistic and esoteric forms of expression—in short, the world of ethics, creativity and ideas—are shouted down by the drunken chants of fans in huge stadiums, the pathetic demands of rich alumni for national championships, and the elitism, racism and rigid definition of gender roles of Greek organizations. These hypermasculine systems perpetuate a culture of conformity and intolerance. They have inverted the traditional values of scholarship to turn four years of college into a mindless quest for collective euphoria and athletic dominance.Makes for a good polemic, and against the background of football practice beginning and probation officers returning from summer vacation, it might be timely. But the article fails to test any hypotheses.
The corporate world sees football players, fraternity brothers and sorority sisters as prime recruits. They have been conditioned to join the team, to surrender moral autonomy, to accept and carry out acts of personal humiliation, to treat with contempt those who oppose them or who are different, to define their life by an infantile narcissism centered on greed and self-promotion and to remain silent about crimes they witness or take part in. It is the very ethic of corporations.Perhaps a small sample drawn from Dartmouth College will convince some readers. But more formal investigations are possible.
The ruling elite sees in Greek organizations and football programs the training ground for the amoral class of speculators, bankers and corporatists who pillage the country.
The fraternity and students value wages and fraternity socializing values. We provide sufficient conditions under which, in equilibrium, most members have intermediate abilities: weak students apply, but are rejected unless they have high socializing values, while most able students do not apply to avoid taint from association with weaker members.In the Bayesian equilibrium, fraternity membership is at best a noisy signal of ability, valuable to sociable but low-ability students, but therefore poison to high-ability students, the more sociable of whom would be offered membership in the fraternity, if they bothered to rush. In a full-information world, there is a separating equilibrium in which only high-sociability individuals apply and only mediocre or high academic individuals pledge. Perhaps that cohort is "amoral": there's always another research question to ask.
The working-paper version of the article offers additional evidence on fraternity membership patterns at the University of Illinois. The probability that a student is a fraternity member, conditional on grade point average, increases for grade-point averages below 3.5, decreasing thereafter.
That evidence is not in the published article, but the supporting data are available at the American Economic Association website.