No, It’s Not Time to Abolish Fraternities

It was a bright spring day in New York City. And the doorman was just minding his own business, watching the traffic go by on Park Avenue. My mission was to steal his hat.

John was my accomplice. We had a plan. I hid around the corner of the building while John casually strode toward the doorman, purposely looking lost. John had a map in his hand. He stopped the doorman and asked for directions.  And when the doorman looked at the map with John … I sprang into action. I ran down the block and before he knew what was happening I snatched his hat off his head and galloped away. John took off in the other direction. 10 minutes later and 10 blocks away, John and I re-grouped to gleefully inspect our treasure.  We got the hat.

Yes, we were pledging a fraternity. And, like today’s fraternity and sorority members, we were college-aged idiots. Read more »

Should We Ban Fraternities? Or Just Watch Them Destroy Themselves?


At this point, we probably shouldn’t bother pretending that we’re shocked by the news coming out of Penn State. (Which is unfortunate, as shock makes great fuel for Internet opinion pieces. Outrage, thankfully, is still on the table.)

It’s not as if fraternities have much of a reputation to uphold lately. Just two weeks ago, we got a peek behind the scenes of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity at the University of Oklahoma, which apparently has absurdly racist and violent sing-alongs when they think no one is looking. Now, police are investigating Penn State’s Kappa Delta Rho for allegedly operating two private Facebook accounts that included nude pictures of unconscious women.

And yet, there is a part of me that’s surprised, if not shocked. Read more »

Bill Would Offer College Help to Ex-Foster Kids


Foster children who “age out” of the system without family ties and support would get state assistance to attend college, under a bill introduced this week in the Pennsylvania House.

Such young adults “already suffer unique disadvantages compared with other students,”said Rep. David Hickernell, a Republican who is the bill’s prime sponsor. “While the General Assembly cannot replace parents, it can certainly help eliminate or greatly reduce the financial barriers to higher education for these students.”

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Swarthmore No. 3 on List of Top 10 Colleges With the Hottest Guys

Nearby Swarthmore College has earned the No. 3 slot on College Magazine’s top 10 list of the colleges with the hottest guys. The online publication says it came up with its list of winners by researching schools’ four-year gradation rates, varsity and intramural sports programs, popular Greek life and gym facilities, so it’s not all about looks and braun. An explanation on how Swarthmore got the No. 3 distinction:

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The Real Epidemic on College Campuses: Academic Dishonesty

While mattress-toting Columbia University student Emma Sulkowicz will be attending the State of the Union address tomorrow as the guest of Senator Kirsten Gillibrand to protest the epidemic of sexual assault on college campuses that’s been pretty thoroughly debunked, there’s another college trend that seems to be flying beneath the nation’s radar. It may not have the cachet of the aforementioned rape crisis, and nobody’s holding hearings or talking about it, but it does appear to be real, according to the latest statistics released by Penn.

Sexual assaults are up at Penn — from three incidents in the 2009-’10 school year among the 10,000-plus undergraduate body to eight in 2012-’13 and seven in 2013-’14, as you can see from this handy chart printed in the school’s Daily Pennsylvanian newspaper. In other words, the number of sexual assaults about doubled, though the numbers were very low. But read down a little further on the chart to the section labeled “Academic Integrity.” That number went from 44 incidents in 2009-’10 to 96 in 2012-’13 and 127 in 2013-’14. That’s right: The number of cheaters nearly tripled in the same time frame.

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Obama’s Community College Plan Would Be a Total Disaster

President Obama | Photo Jeff Fusco; piggy bank |

President Obama, photo Jeff Fusco |  piggy bank,

Obama’s dream plan to offer free community college tuition to students across the nation could work. The key word here is “could.” It would require a vast majority of community college systems to re-focus and re-think how they are currently handling their student populations and, to be frank, the nation’s potential community college students would need to re-focus and re-think what a college degree ultimately delivers.

However, given the “business model” that many community colleges are currently using, the Obama plan would be a total disaster. We’d simply be pumping out more students with more degrees that essentially mean nothing.  Read more »

University of Delaware to Offer All-Gender Housing Option

The University of Delaware (UD) is kicking off a pretty cool new policy starting in the fall semester of 2015: all-gender housing. The plan, according to a press release, is being put in place to “support those students who may identify as transgender, are questioning their gender identity, do not wish to prescribe to gender classifications or are uncomfortable with a same-sex roommate.”

More from Kathleen Kerr, executive director of Residence Life and Housing at UD: “We believe this option will provide a more comfortable living environment and on-campus home for some of our students. … The goal is to create an environment that acknowledges and respects the diverse nature and needs of our student body.”

Interested students will get suite-style double and single rooms with a shared bath in a yet-to-be-determined facility on Laird Campus. For now, the option is only available to sophomores, juniors and seniors aged 18 years and up, though the Residence Life and Housing says incoming freshmen with an interest should inquire about other options.

For more information, go here.


Swarthmore’s “John Doe” Settles Assault Case With College

Photo credit: Fritz Ward via Flickr.

Photo credit: Fritz Ward via Flickr.

As the epidemic of campus rape continues to flare up — see fraternity, University of Virginia — so do lawsuits from male college students expelled for sexual assault. One such case, which I wrote about in my May feature on rape at Swarthmore College, dealt with a “John Doe” who had been found responsible for assault, then expelled, in May 2013. In January of the following year, while residing in North Carolina and attending a different college, he sued Swarthmore, claiming his punishment had not been merited. Here, from the piece, is a description of the incident in question:

Read more »

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