Monday, April 7, 2014

#6 Visual / #7 My Case

When I did my initial research on this subject I was interested in the dangers and mishaps that surround Greek letter societies, especially fraternities. In delving into this matter my interests shifted; fraternities undoubtedly have a higher chance of exposing their members to risky behaviors, but why? In exploring the behaviorism's fraternity membership instills, I started to examine the concept of masculinity within college culture and how these concepts contribute to the fraternity "problem". The concepts that define masculinity and how these factors, along with fraternity membership, contribute to proliferation of high-risk, drunken, or violent behaviors will now be my focus.

Fraternities seek to instill in their members maturity, leadership, and moral rectitude. In short, fraternity membership, in its purest form, is supposed to offer an opportunity for college boys to become men through the adaptation of masculine traits. In the college context, traits that are perceived to be masculine include; ability to drink, risk-taking behavior and associated risk success, physical altercations and violence. Because fraternities seek to push their members into manhood, they push upon their members masculine traits. Because the fraternity is intrinsic to college culture, the masculine norms mentioned early, which permeate the culture in which the fraternity is imbedded, are promoted by the fraternity itself. The fraternity seeks to better its members, but being as the college culture promotes these behaviors, the fraternity is at the forefront of these problems.

In following through on this topic I am relying heavily on the masculine norms theory. This theory, established through scientific and peer reviewed research, states the factors that contribute to the college cultures perception of masculinity, as defined earlier. By linking the masculine norms that contribute to the violent and dangerous behavior of college students with the proliferation of these traits via fraternities, a sound link is drawn between fraternity membership and these behaviors.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Research Proposal

 Working Title: Fraternities: A College Conundrum

     I will explore the tendencies and behaviors of college students and how activity in Greek organizations affects both personal development and likeliness of participating in risky or otherwise questionable activities. Furthermore, I will consider these factors and what role they play in the development of a sense of masculinity among college men.  I will analyze the average college student as well as fraternity members to draw comparisons and contrasts between the general student body and Greek affiliated males. I will take into account the generally accepted activities that Fraternity members participate in, and seek to discern the unique type of masculinity Fraternity members seek to achieve given this behavior. Through this I hope to discover the true role of fraternities in the college setting and how they mold the individuals that comprise them.
Research Question
    How does activity in the Greek community affect the development of, and attitudes of those involved in Greek organizations, particularly Fraternities? What sort of “masculinity” or “manhood” is promoted by Fraternities and is this interpersonal development for the better or worse both on an individual and societal level. Are Fraternities and their activities (parties, binge drinking…) a spawn of the lifestyle that is already widespread amongst the college community, or do Fraternities facilitate the propagation of this lifestyle? College is a time period where one finds themselves flourishing into adulthood. Does being an active member in a Fraternity promote a masculinity that serves it’s members in the long run, or do these influences bring about more problems than solutions.
Theoretical Frame
    Much of what I will be writing about and analyzing is based on one simple fact; college kids like to party. This is not so much a theory as a generally accepted truth. Partying in college is a widespread phenomenon that permeates every campus in the country. College is a time of personal development and part of this development is personal freedom. Because of this, many view this period of freedom anew as a time for drinking, partying and socializing. Being a critical developmental phase in ones life, the party lifestyle comes about at a time in which students are seeking to truly find themselves. In this, understanding how these behaviors affect personal development is critical in understanding the adults todays youth will one day become. The Fraternity promotes these aspects of college life through a medium that is offered up by colleges themselves, being as without the college campus, Greek letter societies would not exist. In The Dark Power of Fraternities, Caitlin Flanagan explores the concept of Fraternities and how they, in and of themselves, possess the power to keep this binge-drinking college culture alive and kicking. Because these Greek organizations facilitate the drunken haze of college students, they also affect how these individuals develop and who they will become in the future. The sense of “masculinity” that college students come to understand is often one of partying, risk-taking, sexual promiscuity, and violence, and although not every Fraternity is the same, these societies undoubtedly support this behavior. As such, membership in these organizations can be a catalyst in the development of an individual, and not necessarily in the right way.
 Fraternities are given life by the institutions who play them host. As such these educational institutions have the power to punish the Greek organization and to rectify their wrongdoings. However, this is rarely the case. The power of the Fraternity is one of sociocultural influence. These organizations help bring in year after year of tuition-paying students which of course are vital for the well being of the institution itself. Although Fraternities promote risky behavior, in the end it is the College that in turn promotes the Fraternity. This is where my point of interest lies. Fraternities, in general, promote an ultra-masculine sense of adulthood through the proliferation of partying and other shenanigans. This being said, Fraternities members are not the only college students who participate in said behaviors. In fact, the vast majority of college students participate in the same exact behavior, although to varying degrees.  Are Fraternities really the promoter of drunken debauchery and Animal-House-esque behavior, or is it the Universities themselves that promote this stereotypical college lifestyle for the sake of raking in money.  
Research and plan
    In researching this topic I plan on looking at both scholarly articles, and written analyzation of the college industry and Fraternity life in hopes finding overlaps in their structure. I plan on using studies and other scholarly information to discern exactly what happens in the house of a Fraternity. Furthermore I would like to touch on whether the risk-inducing happenings within a Fraternity are unique to Greek life, or is it just a small partition of behavior that permeates all of college. I would also like to find articles addressing the relationship between the College and the Fraternity. To what extent does the University allow these happenings to occur and is it really the fault of a Greek organization for a mishap, or the lack of guidance set about by the school in regards to these organizations. 

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Working Bibliography

Christensen, Bryce. "Paying For The Party: How College Maintains Inequality." Booklist 109.15 

      (2013): 8. Literary Reference Center. Web. 10 Mar. 2014.

Iwamoto, Derek Kenji, et al. "“Man-Ing” Up And Getting Drunk: The Role Of Masculine Norms, 

     Alcohol Intoxication And Alcohol-Related Problems Among College Men." Addictive Behaviors 

     36.9 (2011): 906-911. Academic Search Premier. Web. 9 Mar. 2014.

Ragsdale, Kathleen, et al. "'Liquor Before Beer, You're In The Clear': Binge Drinking And Other 

     Risk Behaviours Among Fraternity/Sorority Members And Their Non-Greek Peers." Journal Of 

     Substance Use 17.4 (2012): 323-339. CINAHL with Full Text. Web. 10 Mar. 2014.

"The Dark Power Of Fraternities. (Cover Story)." Atlantic Monthly (10727825) 313.2 (2014): 72-91.  

     Academic Search Premier. Web. 10 Mar. 2014.

Wilkie, Laurie A. The Lost Boys Of Zeta Psi: A Historical Archaeology Of Masculinity At A 

     University Fraternity. Berkeley, CA: U of California P, 2010. MLA International Bibliography

     Web. 10 Mar. 2014.

The perceived masculinity of heavy drinkers in the context of fraternity members.

(2) Citation
Iwamoto, Derek Kenji, et al. "“Man-Ing” Up And Getting Drunk: The Role Of Masculine Norms,
     Alcohol Intoxication And Alcohol-Related Problems Among College Men." Addictive Behaviors
     36.9 (2011): 906-911. Academic Search Premier. Web. 9 Mar. 2014.

(3) Summary
This research examines the relationship between heavy drinking, "risk taking" behavior, controlling women, and violence, and how they affect societies perception of masculinity and manliness with an emphasis on how fraternity membership affects these factors. In general, all of these behaviors contribute to the perceived notion of being a man. Much of these behaviors are promoted and more prevalent in Greek culture and as such are associated with the perceived peer norm of masculinity. With increased alcohol consumption, risky behavior, gender dominance and violent behavior comes an increased perception of masculinity.

(4) Authors
Derek Kenji Iwamoto, Alice Cheng, Christina S. Lee, Stephanie Takamatsu, Derrick Gordon

As with similar scholarly articles I am citing, the fact that this research has been peer reviewed by the scientific community lends validity to the argument and points of this study. This research has a very large sample size (close to 800 undergraduates) and as such the sample findings lend deep insight into the perception of masculinity among college students and how differences in behavior can add or subtract to the idea of masculinity.

(5) Key Terms

Perceived peer norms-
The percieved peer norm is the way in which the general population of college students comes to understand and identify masculinity based on behavior. Activities that one participates in or qualities that one possesses culminate in the perceived peer norm of an individual.

 Perceived masculine norms-
Masculine behaviorism, including binge drinking, sexual promiscuity, and risk taking, all of which contribute to an increased perception of manliness among college culture.

(6) Quotes [Citation (P = Paragraph)]

"According to masculine norms theory (Courtenay, 2000 and Levant and Richmond, 2007), men who are able to display all these attributes are deemed manly, and those who are unable to drink “up” to this standard are considered impotent or less of a man (Lemle & Mishkind, 1989). (P2 of masculine Norms)

Increased alcohol consumption is generally perceived as a masculine or manly quality, as indicated by this quote. The perceived masculine norm of an individual is enhanced by adopting certain behaviors, one of which is heavy drinking. College culture generally accepts that men get drunk, and do so often. 

"Two well-established risk factors of drinking to intoxication and alcohol-related consequences among men are fraternity status and perceived peer norms (or the individual's perception of how many drinks their peer-group members consume on a daily basis) (Capone, Wood, Borsari, & Laird, 2007). Fraternity members tend to drink more alcoholic beverages on a typical drinking day, engage in higher rates of problematic drinking and report more alcohol-related problems when compared to non-fraternity members (Scott-Sheldon, Carey, & Carey, 2008)." (P4 of discussion)

This quote shows the relationship between binge drinking, which Fraternity membership generally affects, and the percieved masculinity of an individual. In general, heavy drinkers, especially fraternity members, are perceived to have a higher perceived masculine norm. This not only indicates that the the heavy drinking among male college students is associated with manliness, but that Fraternity membership promotes this type of masculinity and perceived masculine norm.

"The unique and significant contribution of this study is the elucidation of the distinct relationship between masculine norms, problematic drinking, and related consequences" (P4 of Discussion)

This study clearly links the perception of masculinity with drinking behavior. Furthermore, individuals with increased masculine norms are more likely to develop alcohol related problems. Since fraternity membership, in general, facilitates this type of behavior and perception of masculinity it also comes with an increased likelihood to develop alcohol dependency and related issues. 

(7) Value
This article links more directly to my topic than any other that I have explored. Being that I am examining the sociocultural perception and form of masculinity that Fraternity membership produces, this is a very pertinent article. I wish to examine the behavior of Fraternity members and how the activities promoted by Fraternities, such as binge drinking and sexual promiscuity effect the development of the men that pay them dues. This article objectively examines the factors that contribute to an increased sense of masculinity, all of which align with the activities Fraternities facilitate. Furthermore this article examines the problematic nature of these behaviorism which in turn are a product of Fraternities themselves.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Fraternities: The power struggle

(2) Citation
Caitlin Flanagan, "The Dark Power of Fraternities",, Feb. 19, 2014. Web. Feb 3 2014

(3) Summary: This article provides an in depth analysis of Fraternities and the behavior they produce. Primarily focused on the insurance industry, the article cites dozens of examples of Fraternity related injury and law-suit claims. It is centered around the fact that although the problems that exist in fraternities exist elsewhere, they are much more prevalent in Fraternities and in Greek life in general.

(4) Author: Caitlin Flanagan
A former staff-writer for The New Yorker Caitlin Flanagan is an experienced journalist who has done much research in regards to Greek life. A social critic, her experience with analyzing societal aspects and knowledge of Fraternities makes her a knowledgeable source.

(5) Key Terms
The "Power" of Fraternities: College's rely on student's money to keep them running. As such, keeping a University appealing is crucial in maintaining a smoothly running school. Greek organizations offer a key appeal to the young student body. Because of this colleges are often reluctant to address the problems that often plague fraternities. In this, the "Power" of fraternities develop, whereas the college that plays them host is in essence, powerless to discipline the Fraternity in any applicable or vigorous way.

"Rack Rooms" are rooms within a fraternity house, often on the top level, with an open design and bunk beds for sleeping. These rooms are often the facilitator of injury or death due to falls as they are generally located at the end of the house near a patio or window.

(6) Quotes

"It was a turning point: American colleges began to regard their students not as dependents whose private lives they must shape and monitor, but as adult consumers whose contract was solely for an education, not an upbringing. The doctrine of in loco parentis was abolished at school after school." (Paragraph 31) 

This quotes indicates the from where the privatization of school came about. The schools "stepping back" from the private lives of students has facilitated both the fraternities rise to power, and the increased privatization of high education. 

"The insurance industry ranked American fraternities as the sixth-worst insurance risk in the country—just ahead of toxic-waste-removal companies." (Paragraph 38)

This quote is revealing to say the least and sparked my personal interest. Are Fraternities really that much of a liability? Evidently, as this quote indicates, life or association within a fraternity exposes individuals to high risk behaviors. If it didn't, the insurance industry would not have placed such a high premium on the American Fraternity. 

"The answer may involve the deep power that fraternities exert over their host universities and the complex mix of institutional priorities in which fraternities are important stakeholder." (Paragraph 66) 

If Fraternities are such a problem why do Universities do nothing about them? it would appear that Fraternities exhibit some power over the schools that allow them sanctuary. Fraternities are a form of marketing, and the colleges that host them rake in the premiums. Because of this Universities are reluctant to punish Greek organizations and kick them off campus. 

(7) Value
This article offers a very critical perspective of Fraternity life. It shows that while Fraternities are often targeted by the media, they are often targeted for good reason. This article further supports evidence of the high risk behaviors that chapter members take part in. Furthermore, it also exemplifies that members of Greek organizations are not the only ones to be affected by the Fraternity or Sorority. It would seem that these organizations are a hot spot for violence and injury for both members and non-members. As such, this article offers deep insight into the inner workings of the Fraternity and how the continued proliferation of Greek organizations is maintained despite these happenings.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

'Liquor before beer, you're in the clear'

 (2) Citation
Kathleen Ragsdale, Jeremy R. Porter, Rahel Mathews, Allyn White, Cheryl Gore-Felton, & Elizabeth L. McGarvey. ' "Liquor before beer, you're in the clear": binge drinking and other risk behaviors among fraternity/sorority members and their non-Greek peers.' Journal of Substance Use, (2012) Web 323-339

 (3) Summary
The bulk of this article is analyzing the behaviorism of Greek affiliated college students versus their none Greek affiliated counterparts. In General, Greek affiliation is associated with high risk behaviors such as binge drinking, driving under the influence, physical fighting, and unprotected sex.

 (4) Authors
For this particular example I do not think individualistic authors are of much importance. What does make this a reliable and accurate source for information is the fact that it is a scholarly article. Not only do these several authors use a scientific approach in discerning the behaviorism of college students, but their citation of several others work regarding the same material reaffirms the soundness of the article.

(5) Key Terms
Greek-affiliated: Individuals who are members of Greek organizations such as fraternities or sororities. These Greek-affiliated individuals are found to be more likely to participate risky behavior.
High Risk Behavior: Behavior, mostly spawned from binge drinking, that puts the individual at risk of academic, physical or emotional injury. These include declining grades, less attention to school, physical violence such as fights, drunken injuries, DUIs, unprotected sex, rape, and unwanted sex.

(6) Quotes
"Although alcohol use among college undergraduates has seen a slight decline in the past decade, high-risk drinking - such as binge drinking and frequent binging - is on the increase, especially among fraternity and sorority members (335).

-This quote indicates the proliferation of drinking culture via Greek life. 

"..we found that 25% of fraternity bingers[binge drinkers] experienced an alcohol related injury as compared to 22% of non-Greek makes. 31% of fraternity bingers engaged in alcohol-related physical fights compared to only 8% of non-Greek males" (329) 

-Being a fraternity member and a binge drinker exposes the individual to much more harm than non Greek affiliated males who also binge drink. This indicates there is some connection between being a member of a fraternity and risky, drunken behavior. This offers support that fraternities promote binge drinking and other behaviors that are stereotypically "college".

"Males are over two and a halftimes more likely to DUI, as are those students that belong to Greek organizations.(344)" 

-Driving while intoxicated is something that most people agree is horrible. It would seem then that fraternities and sororities promote these risky and sometimes deadly behaviors.

(7) Value

I believe this article holds much value for the topic I am researching. In regards to how Greek organizations shape an individual and what ethics they inspire, it is important to have a good understanding of how people within these organizations behave as they are a direct result of said ethics. By understanding the behaviorisms of members of Greek organizations one can come to understand the set of values these organizations reinforce.  

Who joins Greek organizations, Socialites or Wannabes?

The privatization of higher education is producing a divergence in the student body of colleges. With increasing prices, students reigning from upper class or more well-off families find themselves much better prepared for both college life, and life after college than their average, middle class peers. In the work of Elizabeth Armstrong and Laura Hamilton, Paying for The Party goes on to describe the means by which this inequality develops. The elitist "socialites" tend to not only have a better time in college than their "wannabe" peers, but they are also better prepared for the real world after college. With more money at their disposal college is much less of a struggle for the socialites. Furthermore, their sociability pays dividends in the long run compared to the social networks the wannabes build in college. 

There seems to be a parallel between these socioeconomic factors and Greek letter organizations. The Fraternity or Sorority is based around an idea of mutual development. Being active in a Greek organization builds leadership skills, interpersonal networks, and allows social outlets to flourish. These are much the same outlets that allow the socialites to flourish in college. My question is; are greek organizations a means to which the average student can tanscend the inquality developed by privatized education, or do they further perpetuate this cycle by facilitating the socialite class.

As portrayed in Paying for The Party, these "pathways" develop because of economic inequality. More economic mobility equates more social mobility which pays dividends in the long run. In joining a Greek organization there is a large monetary commitment. Moreover, to be given the opportunity to join a Fraternity or Sorority one must be selected as a fitting candidate, and then, only after weeks of proving your worth (i.e. pledging) are you initiated into the organization. The selectivity of this process appears to play heavily into the inequality developed by privatized colleges. The same students who fall into the socialite class, with more money and more social connections are seemingly more prepared to join a Greek letter society. Through offering social connections which can lead to jobs and internships and social outlets such as parties and formals, members of Greek letter societies share many of the perks the socialite class of student experience. However, through selectivity and monetary contributions, the socialite class is also the most prepared to join a fraternity or sorority. Because of this, Greek letter societies and the privatization of school are intrinsically tied. Fraternities and Sororities perpetuate the same type of inequality that developed through the privatization of school. Although not their goal, the opportunities that Greek societies offer are, for the most part, only accessible to the socialites who are exposed to these opportunities anyway.