Fraternities: Two Views
To the Editor:
Carey McWilliams’ article “Equality or Fraternities?” in the May COMMENTARY seems to me to deserve comment. I was very much amazed and perturbed by Mr. McWilliams’ narrow and biased point of view. Of course, there are abuses . . . but the fraternities themselves are attempting to reduce them. . . .
Since the conclusion of World War II, many of the restrictions of the old fraternities as to race, color, or creed have been removed. The large number of recently formed fraternities are without any discriminatory practices. Several college fraternities have even been founded for the express purpose of fighting these prejudices. Perhaps fraternities today might actually show less prejudice than clubs, unions, or even nations. . . .
It is true that a student may not always become a brother in the fraternity of his first choice. Neither may an electrician become a member of the American Medical Association. There is, however, a fraternity for every college student. . . .
Mr. McWilliams fails to recognize the benefits of the fraternity. Fraternity brothers aid each other in solving school problems. . . . Fraternities promote understanding among neighbors and colleagues. Fraternities offer opportunities for self-government, and prepare the student for active participation in national and international governments.
There is democracy in fraternities. Any brother who has completed his pledge period may run for office. Fraternities offer an extracurricular tie between the student and the university. In a non-campus college this tie is very welcome. It brings about a devotion to the school which normally would not exist. All these values certainly do not remove equality from fraternal existence.
If Mr. McWilliams wishes to fight for equality, I think it would be wise for him to fight for the fraternalism of all mankind. We who are active in fraternity life at City College will join him in that fight.
Ralph A. Messing
The City College of New York
[Note: Mr. McWilliams' article stated that a number of fraternities have recently abandoned policies of discrimination, and that many new fraternities have been formed without discriminatory rules.—Ed.]
To the Editor:
As a former national chancellor of a Greek letter fraternity, I have a special background for appreciating the merit of Carey McWilliams’ excellent article, “Equality or Fraternities?” I wholeheartedly support Mr. Mc-Williams’ thesis, and I wish you could make a reprint of the article for every president of a national fraternity, and circularize the National Interfraternity Conference with it.
I also would suggest that if you possibly can, you send reprints to directors of various religious foundations that do local campus work. I can visualize, as a former national youth director for the Unitarian church, a thousand magnificent “bull sessions” on the article. . . .
Congratulations on COMMENTARY. You are doing a splendid piece of work.
Stephen H. Fritchman
First Unitarian Church
Los Angeles, California