Crumbling Ruins


As the time for the inauguration of the House Plan approaches, the question of the fate of the Junior Fraternities becomes more acute. Soon they are to pass before a tribunal of the undergraduates themselves, the faculty, and alumni. Tried, will they be found wanting? What will the handwriting on the wall foretell? Will it speak of fraternity achievements, its benefits to college society, or will it boldly depict the history of outworn customs, forgotten ideals, and nebulous raison d'etres?

The fraternity life at college grew out of the desire for closer contacts between small groups as distinct from the university society of the large university. With the inevitability of "cliques," social intimacy was frankly sponsored, and intellectual pursuits stimulated. That is, perhaps a roseate picture, but at least the fraternity in its infancy approached these ideals. Today, however, the scene has changed: we do not attempt to approximate one tithe of our former self. Socially speaking, groups of one hundred, more or less, are not exclusive nor intimate. Almost without exception fraternities have recognized that they can benefit solely through the acceptance of larger and larger delegations. It has meant increased revenue, more money to pay off the mortgage. On the other hand, intellectually appraised, they have fared little better: No longer are scholastic achievements publicly recognized and encouraged. Original functions have been almost completely forgotten, and the new ones evolved through the transition no longer carry the same lofty conception. They are, as many members have said, convenient restaurants, solutions to the eating problem not only for the university administration but for the undergraduates as well.

A few years may find them in their death agony, attempting to sum up good deeds that the severity of their punishment might be mitigated. When the present year is reviewed, it will be found that Beta Theta Pi gave a musicale, that another fraternity gave a play, and one or another gave "bear parties." But that is all. Presented with such a record it would be difficult for any group to maintain it had a vital raison d'etre. This, even the undergraduate reluctantly acknowledges, yet remains inactive in strengthening-the tottering position of his institution.

Soon, however, all possible opportunities for justifying the existence of the fraternity will pass out of reach. The Colleges and the new curriculum are designed to foster a more general but still intimate contact between students and faculty that the social and intellectual phases of college life may be more harmoniously blended. In these spheres little place is left for the fraternity. On the more tangible side, the "system" will necessarily deprive them of their function as eating houses. What will then be the result?