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January 20, 1970 - Image 4

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1970-01-20

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sIc 3ii igau Daitj
Seventy-nine years of editorial freedom
Edited and managed by students of the University of Michigan
Maynard St., Ann Arbor, Mich. News Phone: 764-0552
Editorials printedin The Michigan Daily express the individual opinions of staff writers
or the editors. This must be noted in alt reprints.
MakintheGree kew
- more relevant

Fraternities: Keeping in step with the times

IILE REPORTS of the -death of the
fraternity system are greatly exag-
,ted it is clear that after years of
perity the most traditional social in-
ition on campus is facing hard times.
owever, to construe the current trou-
of fraternities as indications of their
itable death is shortsighted. To de-
their demise is narrow-minded.
raternities reflect a certain life-style,
* part of which is inherent in their
cture. They have traditionally been
conservative brotherhood, the bas-
against change, and the remnents of
Greek way in an ever more plastic
i former years racoon coats, football
.es and Saturday night beer blasts
e their trademarks. However, on to-
s university campuses even frater-
men don't mourn the death of these
-hip' stereotypes.
o attack the fraternities as such,
ch has been major pasttime of much
he liberal student community in re-
, years is foolish, for they merely
acted a certain social and political
tide. The basic concept of meaningful
vidual - and group -- personal in-
elationships is sound and should be
ered. It is unfortunate that some peo-
shrug of f the fraternity concept as
evant when only its style is offensive.
invent the conservatism that was
r trademark. Rather, as a result of
ing enjoyed their heyday in a more
servative time and being great up-
ers of tradition, fraternities separated
nselves from the mainstream of
.pus life. There are still many cust-

ems and rituals which some fraternities
insist on maintaining which simply place
them out of touch with most students.
But the new tide of iconoclasm has
caught up with them at last, and the time
for change has come.
Fraternities have not been as far be-
hind as the most recent rush figures
might indicate. Hell Week long ago gave
way to Help Week, which has since found
even more appropriate expressions. T-
groups or sensitivity training, are now
standard in some houses. Classes are con-
ducted in a number of others.
In almost all cases, the old rah-rah
spirit is quickly giving way to a new
social awareness which today's new crop
of high school graduates express.
Fifteen years ago, the word brother-
hood probably meant being willing to bail
a drunk brother out of jail. Today's fra-
ternity men are beginning to assert them-
selves in new and more meaningful roles.
Indeed, fraternity men seem finally to be
growing up.
THIUS THE DROP in pledge figures over
the past three years should not be
taken to indicate the death of the frater-
nity system. Rather, the figures reflect
the pains of rebirth. Despite this "time of
troubles" the fraternities will slowly re-
constitute themselves, appealing to a
much wider range of campus interests.
That there will be some casualities - in
closed houses, and folded chapters - is
inevitable. What is important is that the
structure remains, offering students an
alternative life style ,different f r o m
dormitories and apartments.

(EDITOR'S NOTE: The author is
an officer of Tau Kappa Epslon
Daily Guest Writer
A SLICK-LOOKING, black-cov-
ered, Madison Avenue-tainted
booklet circulates campus twice
a year as sign-up tables appear on
the Diag. Forty-odd neo-classical
and Tudor English mansions, ri-
valling the most ostentatious in
Ann Arbor, flaunt Greek initials
along Hill, Washtenaw, and State
St. And a stream of uptight hu-
manity ebbs and flows daily down
South U.
The frat-rat legacy at Michi-
gan has shrivelled to these barely
visible remnants.
For most of the Bohemian, lib-
erated students of the A-square
head scene, the fraternity repre-
sents an obscure, establishmentar-
ian subculture, approximately co-
equal with the Regents, the Engin
School, and ROTC. Or at least,
that is the impression the impres-
sionable newcomer to the Uni-
versity is left with.
Where has the fraternity of our
forefathers gone - that gung-ho,
hell-bent-for-beer, BMOC clique
that the majority of University
males have idealized at some time
in t h eir tender, innocent boy-
hoods? Does it function on the
fringe of relevance, an anachron-
ism drawing only the most gulli-
ble and least tuned-in of e a c h
freshman class? It it sinking into
a well-deserved grave; bereft of
mourners in its valuelessness?
Falling steadily through the
60's, the 45 fraternities at Michi-
gan are bound to a traditional col-
legiate way of life imortalized by
generations past.
The Michigan system once stood
as one of the largest, richest, and
most influential in America, the
prototypical Greek idyll. The leg-
end is familiar, incorporating a
campus elite of beautiful people.
mingling in parties as exclusive as
they were bacchanalian.
It was a glorious way of life for
those who qualified, and a painful
torment to those who stood spited,
condemned to four years of pale
imitiation. The Greek had power,
and he used it to generate a swell
of resentment t h a t haunts his
As late as 1968,; the Michigan
fraternity system was voted recip-
ient of the National Interfratern-
ity Council's "Iron Man" award,
as the outstanding large-campus
system in the country. But t h e
Iron Man weighed like a posthu-
mous Medal of Honor on those
who sensed the peril their houses
descended from its peak of cam-
pus "high society" to the plain of
student organizations. Social ne-
cessity and opportunism have
ceased to be motivating factors
for joining. The fraternity must
b e c o m e competitive, interest-
arousing, and personally fulf ill-
ing in the manner of all student
bodies, or perish.
The slow and painful changes
taking place in the structure and
emphases of the system point up
this gradual realization on the
part of some of those committed
to the Greek way.

But does the fraternity have
the ability to change, within a
structure often criticized as re-
strictively and inextricably bound
to the status quo mainstream of
Even more important, does
there exist within the fraternity
concept a quantity of uniqueness
and intrinsic value great enough
to justify its continuance?
Fraternities are in no way at-
tached to a hierarchy extending
into the Establishment. Alumni
play a minor role, mostly as ben-
efactors. The national organiza-
tion contributes its particular
status connotation, plus a trained
staff to assist in maintaining
chapter stability.
No other recommendations or
attitudes emanate from the na-
tional, and the average Greek no
more identifies with the aura and
viewpoints of his particular na-
tional than he does with the gods
of Athens on a day-to-day basis,.
That is, he is no longer conscious
of his particular Hellenic badge as
representing a certain national
collegiate stratum of status, but
simply as the title of the group of
guys he lives with.
THE RISING affluence, com-
bined with the stereotypically
"'camp" social conscience of to-
day's campus have put fraternities
on the losing side of the ledger
recently. Why? First, free-spend-
ing has promoted the proliferation
of socialtoutlets beyond the .once
sole wealth of the Greek set. So,
quite simply, kicks are available
without a frat.
Second, the "black ball" of the
past characterizes an inequality
antithetical to popular mores, and
has prompted censure. Thus fra-
ternities are out, uncool.

Make no mistake; the self-cen-
tered and self-enamored youths
who provided the masses for Greek
memberships in better days are
not gone. Such basic human traits
still pervade society in undimin-
ished proportions.-
But maximization of personal
benefit is a fundamental tenet in
such a psyche, and frets just don't
have it anymore.
Jocks, animals, face men, studs,
the circus of self-cultism that was
fraternity, of late weighed t h e
loyalty and cost that was exacted
from them and discovered t h e
apartment scene was making it
nearly as well where it caunted
in booze, breads, and big-man-
ship. They dropped the G r e e k
system as the material returns be-
came marginal.
knows where fraternities have
gone since .this n ew balance of
power began forming three or four
yearn ago. Robbed of the selfish
multitudes th a t swelled their
memberships in the past, the pre-
cipitous drop in popularity which
fraternities suffered h as fored
the compromising of rituals of
elitism handed down virtually
from father to son in the houses.
The bottom half of Michigan's
forty-five fraternities lost the
right of the black ball immediate-
ly. Petty objection by one or two
individuals became downright im-
practical as a grounds for rejec-
tion of a rushee in these "lower
class" houses.
Three or four years ago w a s
when they began adjusting to
reality _- to the fact that they
needed pledges at leastastmuch
as pledges wanted to join.
Elitism and superiority died-
hard in some members who had

idealized these aspects of frater-
nity, who had enshrined them as
cardinal principles.
Necessity forced the change on
all it touched, and it brought the
end of the stereotyped house in
the process. '
Selectivity w as increasingly
limited to simple individual worth
as rushees shrunk.
the idealism of personal contribu-
tion, personal worth, and person-
al uniqueness was disinterred'
from bylaws 'long ignored. They
became to the fraternityredeem-
ing social values, necessary with-
out the lure of social superiority,
and signalled the demise of an-
othertradition of fraternal per-
version. P hysical abuse and per-
sonal degradation no longer had
a place.
Whether the idealsof brother-
hood were reborn at the hands of
a revolutionary utopianist or
whether they merely followed from
the crassness of self-preservation
and sensibility will remain a mys-
Many will venture t h e fairly
safe guess though. The point is
that in being forced to revamp
their Greek way of life to do with-
out elitism, hazing or the black
ball, this segment of fraternity
men have been forced also to re-
realize the original value of fra-
ternity as its only real value. A
large proportion of the bottom 23
houses, those that were forced. to
redirect themselves several years
ago, have settled into a new Greek
way, one that does actually incor-
poratermutuality, sharing and
A PARADOX is occuring now,
as fraternities are reaching a

crossroads of existence which has
resulted from t h e campus shift
described above.
Houses long solidly mediocre are
retaining their size, r even gain-
ing members. This is because they
have completed their course in ad-
justment to the "now 'U"' with-
out being pressured, because they
were the first to start, of neces-
In the meantime, the prestige
houses, the big names of the
Michigan Greek system, are sud-
denly verging on collapse. Their
desirability as traditional frats
endured longest and their mem-
berships today still closely approx-
imate the self-ist of t h e social
But now thisaoutdated ideal is
being exposed as a stagnation.
Unfortunately a membership of
egocentrics will not now be able to
muster the dedication, coopera-
tion and exe~tion that the urgey
of their situation indicates will be
required to turn about. They pos-
sessed the greatest attributes of
the old system for t h e greatest
amount of time, and these assets
have become their greatest liabili-
ties today.
Horseplay and rah-rah campus
loyalty continue to exist in every
fraternity. The importantything
is that in some houses they now
co-exist with social commitment,
radical membership, and the like.
spect of each individual for his
own beliefs and interests, and in
the concerted and conscious at-
tempt to foster interchange of
these viewpoints, the fraternity is
most valuable. Hopefully, it will
remain as notoriously apolitical as
it has always been, forto define a
course, to judge a value, would
once again type memberships and
encourage the resolution of con-
flict by exclusion.
Humanity is a step more basic
than politics, and the fraternity
seeks to establish it as its basis
for interaction. Mutual closeness
and respect can transcend politi-
cal differences if they are intrin-
sic to an individual, or reiterated
by a group of which he is a mem-
With the differing approaches
being taken to the problems of
selling fraternities at Michigan;
the dissolution of IFC rushing
structure is only logical.
Houses which earn predomi-
nance by their diligence in con-
tacting and impressing under-
classmen w ill attain it quickly.
Others will shrivel and die in an
apathy which a prestigious set of
Greek initials has fed and pr-
zmoted for too long. d d
FRATERNITIES intrigue a ma-
jority of Michigan freshmen, and
the lugubrious dirge of doom that
has emanated from a handful of
acid critics has been thesle dis-
couraging factor fora great num-
ber of them in the recent past.
The dynamism and apparent
value. in many of Michigan's fra-
ternities will now become an ac-
tive and personal force in over-
coming this smear. Fraternities
are just beginning to realize a
new way of life, rising, like the
Phoenix, from the death throes of
the old.


The anemic Democrats stumble

HERE IT IS, the beginning of the new
year. The weather isn't getting any
better and neither is the Democratic
Already we have two reminders that
the Democratic Party provides no hope
for anyone seriously .interested in social
change. For one, Congress went back in
session yesterday. This, of course, is a
sore reminder of the broken promise of
the last session.
We had been warned again and again
during the 1968 election of the impor-
tance of re-electing a whole host of
Senate doves if we were ever to get out of
Vietnam. Fulbright, Nelson, Church, Mc-
Govern--all were returned. Political pun-
dits promised that this solid Democratic
leadership in Congress would somehow
make-up for a do-nothing Nixon. How
sadly mistaken they were.
Democratic leadership in getting us
out of Vietnam-where they found so
little difficulty getting us in-has been
all but nonexistent. The Nixon Adminis-
tration has done little more than to
asuage the newly discovered "silent ma-
jority." The Democrats have meekly
LAST WEEKEND, we got a n o t h e r
glimpse of the Democratic Party, still
trying to limp out of the shambles of the
bloodbath in Chicago. The state conven-
tion of Michigan Democrats showed how
the cries for reform will die in vain

throughout the rest of the. country as
The state convention passed a recom-
mendation calling for extension of the
right to vote for all 18 year olds. Con-
sidering the weakness of the party in this
state, the campaign to bolster their num-
bers by enfranchising young people is
tactically a sound one.
But lest anyone get the idea that this
recommendation was passed simply be-
cause this is a desirable reform that has
been long overdo, another action taken
at the convention shows the party's true
motives. The convention refused to back
a recommendation calling for a direct
presidential primary.
If Democrats were truly interested in
reform and extending the franchise, they
would have been willing to support action
giving people a direct say in the nomina-
tion, which is often the only real choice
in the election.
HIS MAY BE an age of heart trans-
plants, but the Democratic Party has
been dead for too long to be brought back
to life through surgery. It can at least
be hoped that the concerned young Dem-
ocrats who are trying to breathe some
life into the party's archaic structures
will realize that their efforts will be more
fruitful in other channels.
Editoral Page Editor


The frat men of the future: No more plaid jackets

To the Editor:
sickening bias permeating y o u r
article on fraternities in your is-
sue of January 18, 1970. You r
front page spread and b a n n e r
headline describing the inevitable
extinction of fraternities and this
campus cannot go unchallenged.
I am deeply distressed by your
all- encompassing accusations of
the fraternity system as a whole.
Your statements regarding hazing,
Hell week, work sessions and alle
the other shit normally associated
with fraternities and the effect of
these archaic programs on those
houses not willing to replace them
is very true. I dispute your appli-
cation of these admittedly odious
programs to all houses and espec-
ially my own.
Fraternity rush is down. A large
part of the reason is a number of

reactionary houses that insist on
basing their existance on these
outdated practices. Your article
linked these policies with the en-
tire system. I cannot allow this
violation of journalistic integrity
to jeopardize the progressive sys-
tems that many houses are insti-
tuting or have already instituted.
We are witnessing a retrench-
ment of th e fraternityrsystem.
Those houses, unwilling to adapt
to the liberalized atmosphere, the
era of the individual, sweeping
this campus, will necessarily die.
However, there are houses that
will not. I feel our house is strong
in this respect.
We have' set up a non-hazing
program in the true sense of the
word - we no longer have pledge
tests and mandatory work ses-
sions, Hell week, etc. These are
characteristics that we feel will

enable us to make the ridiculous
stereotyped mold articles like you
insist on fostering.
IF A FRESHMAN on this cam-
pus is so insecure as to need a
group of guys that all s m o k e
Cherry Blend tobacco in Medico
filter pipes and wear plaid jack-
ets with striped ties - to need
the close supervision of his paddle
laden "brothers" as a pledge, and
needs to bouy up his own ego in
the same activities later as an ac-
tive - then this fellow is a loser.
Any group like this offers noth-
ing to the type of individual in
my own house or the other mod-
ern minded houses. The timing of
your article - the first day of
rush can be easily seen as a de-
spicable attempt to propagandize
students against progressive hous-
es that easily fit in with this cam-
pus life.
tired of d o r m janitors keeping
their johns clean and willing to
accept responsibility in a com-
munal environment - MEN who
will affect those with whom they
live by their individuality and will
learn from the personalities of
other MEN.
For you to assume that all fra-
ternities are the same static in-
stitutions that they were in 1925,
and to write an article accusing
the system of this can only be seen
as a move to hurt us.
Any truly honest attempt at re-
porting would have contrasted
those houses that are maintaining
themselves in this period of
change with those rotting from
What you have done can.only
be likened to kicking a man when
he .is down.

campus is entitled to hear about
and take advantage of. I am
speaking specifically of changes in
the fraternity system. I can speak
most accurately of the changes in
one house, Delta Upsilon, and can
only infer that the leads of this
house will be followed by others
if they hope to survive.
As pledgemaster last term at
Delta Upsilon,I instituted a new
Help Week which- was the cul-
mination of a term of changes. It
was completely positive and con-
structive and its results are f a r
reaching. It was limed at getting
down the basic issue: What can
a fraternity provide that is a
meaninful experience in the con-
text of a living situation?
T-groups were an integral part
of the week. They were conducted
by Dr. David Kopplin and two as-
sistants. A high percentage of
active members took part.
T-group was atypical. It involved
people who had been together in
the past and would continue to
b together in the future in a close
group setting. The thrust of the
experience was twofold: we learn-
ned and implemented skills in in-
terpersonal communications a n d
worked on organizational prob-
We looked at our goals from the
perspective of individuals in an
organization, and the organiza-
tion's goals in general. Eveiryone
sought friendships, closeness, a
sense of community in a fratern-
ity. When people found they
could trust each other, problems
were brought into the open. Hon-
esty in communications prevailed.
personal problems and enduring
the tensions and frustrations
that are inherent in them, the

ful and relevant to students' de-
sires outside the important realm
of closeness and friendship.
Our house has for the p a s t
three terms offered credit cours-
es, two hours each, on South-
east Asia, student leadership -
where the students established
there own areas of study - and
this term on current films and
their impact on and reflection of
THESE COURSES are initiated
and sponsored by the house but
are open to non-Greek, people to
the extent the space is available.
Speakersare brought in regularly
to the house to lecture on issues
such as the environment, racism
and ths educational system.
Fraternities can also provide the
student with the opportunity to
get outside of the sheltered world
of the University andthe old fra-
ternity stereotypes. Like many
houses we have done our share
of token good-will projects, but
now we are trying to lay t h a
groundwork for a permanent pro-
gram with Ann Arbor's underpriv-
ileged children and the Black
community. It involves working
with, and financing work .done
by Black youths in rundown hous-
es in Ann Arbor's poorer sections.
have taken place. Others are ne-
cessary and now I speak only for
myself and not for my hquse or
any other. The present system of
selecting members is absurd and
must be abolishsd.
After 2 hours of conversation a
"brother" feels he has the power
to determine whether a stranger
has the "character" to be "wor-
thy" of membership in "our
In short, there is nothing wrong
with sports, parties and g o o d



HMtiALL.Y T:f 2AH(Zf2

/I Ql


--Robert S. Tolles
President-Phi Sigma



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