University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
The University of Wisconsin Collection

Page View

Egstad, Herman M. (ed.) / The Wisconsin alumni magazine
Volume 30, Number 4 (Jan. 1929)

Goodnight, Scott H.
Goodnight weighs the fraternity,   pp. 107-108


Page 107


January, 1929                      THE WISCONSIN ALUMNI MAGAZINE        
                                     Page 107
    Coodnight Weighs the Fraternity
             Low Scholarship, "Hell Week," Too Expensive Building,
Failure to Dyke
                               Gin Tide Are Their Glaring Fau'ts, He Says.
                                    By SCOTT H. GOODNIGHT
                                      (Dean of Men, Director of Summer Session)
THE     "fraternity problem" is one   in private homes are condemned
to take  enced dean of women or of men can
   which, like the "liquor problem," is  all their meals in cafeterias
or restaur-  testify.
never conclusively settled. I am sure I  ants. The fraternity and sorority
houses  These cases are never found in fra-
ought to beg pardon of the fraternities  provide both lodgings and good table
 ternity houses. On the contrary, the
at the outset for such an invidious com-  board under the same roof; the
meals  running fire of praise, blame, criticism,
parison. (At least of some fraternities.)  represent a well-balanced ration,
and  and derision, and the good and bad ex-
But there is in the fraternity situation                                
        amples of how to do it and how not to
in general a complexity which renders a                                 
        do it which are present in every such
comparison with the prohibition issue                                   
        group, is an educational process which is
not inept. New laws, changed economic                                   
        vastly more effective than most folk
conditions, shifts in public sentiment                                  
        imagine. Unhappily, it must be ad-
may bring forward new phases of the                                     
        mitted that some boys select the wrong
problem; some older evils may dis-                                      
        sort of models and acquire some things
appear, but new ones spring up in their                                 
        they would be better off without. But
places.                                                                 
        on the whole, the process of learning to
  There, however, the similarity ends.                                  
        live with otherscon a give-and-take basis
There is infinitely more of good and less                               
        is beneficial to more boys than it is
of evil in the fraternity system than in                                
        harmful.
the debauching sway of John Barley-                                     
                               me
corn. Would that the latter might be
completely eradicated from our civiliza-                                
          Other advantages, too, might be
tion! The fraternities, though, are mak-                                
        enumerated. The cementing of life-long
ing a contribution of value to academic                                 
        comradeships is a common occurance.
life and with a few reforms, could be-                                  
        Awkward and uncouth country youngs-
come vastly more valuable.                                              
        ters acquire something of poise and
          Offer Good Living                                             
        polish. Sophisticated city youths who
         have been sedulously shielded at home
  Oine of the useful functions they per-                                
        from contact with those of other social
form, and one the importance of which                                   
        strata, rub elbows, play baseball, foot-
has been generally overlooked, is the                                   
        ball, basketball, argue and quarrel with
providing of good living accommoda-                                     
        sturdy, honest; hard-hitting boys, from
tions for a quarter of the student body.                                
        farm or small town, and both have their
TheeUniversity dormitories for women      "I ought to beg pardonelines
     horizons windened.  We lament the
have taken care of about  ho75 students                                 
        passing of the debating societies with
per year. This was all the University did  are served at regular hours. Pretty
fair  the valuable training they afford. The
until two years ago when Tripp and    health insurance, so the doctors advise,
 fraternity chapter meeting provides a
Adams dormitories for men were com-                                     
        free-for-all debating floor where condi-
pleted. They now house foo. Total                Lonely and Heartsick   
        tions are far less artificial, the particip-
cared for by the University, 775. Our   There is not much chance in a fra-
 ants argue with more conviction, and
fraternity houses alone have a capacity  ternity house for the loneliness
which  the intent to appeal to the will power
of o,645 men; the sorority houses can  often grips the unaffiliated student.
It  of others is more real than in a pre-
lodge 66i women. The accommodations   didn't prevail in the days of the old
 arranged debate on a learned question
are of good quality, too, and the prices,  boarding houses either, for they
made  where participants display ingenuity,
as a rule, are not out of line with those  up little social groups and even
com-  often without sincerity.
charged elsewhere for equal service.  munity centers which were quite ef-
    Turning now to the other side of the
Thus the fraternities have for years  fective in promoting friendship and
   questionv we find the bad aspects of
performed, and performed well, a func-  banishing melancholy.  But many a
  fraternity life also numerous. One of
tion which should normally be per-    student in a big university is lonely
and  them is the tenacity with which some
formed by the institution, or which, at  heart-sick among thousands. The
very  chapters cling to the practice of "hell
least, is performed by many of the larger  fact that there are so many makes
the  week" and the "rough-house initiation."
institutions of the country, at a much  situation all the more terrifying.
There  Fraternalism, loyalty to the order and
greater expense to both University and  is no common interest and-If he shuns
 respect and esteem for older brothers
students.                                the Union, as such a chap is quite
likelycannot be beaten into a freshman with a
  It might also be pointed out that the  to do-no common meeting ground.
It  heavy paddle. The nationals have long
old-fashioned boarding houses, in which  may be that he doesn't "fit
in" at all in  since realized this and have long been
students might have both lodging and  the group with which chance throws
   advising against it. A protracted hell-
regular meals in family style, is ap-  him together in a lodging house. The
 week, -n which freshmen are deprived
parently a thing of the past, or at least  morbidity which may ensue from
 a  of food and sleep, razzed and beaten,
a great rarity here in Madison. The   situation of this kind sometimes pro-
 arouses the ire of parents, demoralizes
2,500 men who occupy furnished room~s  duces pitiful results, as every experi-
 the academic work of all concerned, and


Go up to Top of Page