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Thoma, Harry C. (ed.) / Wisconsin alumnus
Volume 38, Number V (Feb. 1937)

Dollard, Charles V.
The fraternity problem today,   pp. 180-182


Page 180


      The lraterxii-y Problem                                           
          Today
                                             Reassessments and reorganizations
are nec-
  T HAS been said that one
    of the most precious fruits             essary if Wisconsin fraternities
are to survive
    of adversity is that it in-
    duces in the affected indi-
    vidual  or   institution a                       Iy   Charles       
V. Dollardl,          28
tendency to critical self exami-
nation and re-assessment. The                                    Assistant
Dean of Men
ego expansion which follows
success and is the hand maiden
of prosperity is pleasant, but a
little ominous. The concept is in point in any con-   expenses by resigning
from  club membership was
sideration of the present status of the college frater-  generally observed
in adult circles throughout the
nity. A decade of comparative prosperity following   country during this
period.
the disturbed years of the war brought this institu-    The fraternity by
the very nature of its organiza-
tion, whose first beginnings occurred in the same    tion is not a highly
efficient business unit.  Its
momentous years as did those of our national gov-    changing personnel makes
it difficult to insure con-
ernment, to its optimum   strength and prestige at   tinuity and responsibility
in management. Its sys-
Wisconsin and found it enrolling almost half of all  tem of allocating operating
costs is often such as to
the eligible males in the University in its ranks. With  make it difficult
to analyze accounts; and the frater-
the bursting of the economic bubble, the reaction set  nal spirit seems to
militate against forceful collection
in, and since the year 1927-28 there has been a      methods. Even in good
times many fraternities were
steady decline both in the total number of frater-    operating at a net
loss, although frequently their
nity chapters and in the total percentage of men      method of bookkeeping
concealed this fact even from
affiliated with them.  The trend was the more        themselves. The depression,
of course, immediately
marked because for two years after this date, the en-  restricted credit
and made old creditors more insistent
rollment continued to increase reaching its maximum   for payment.  To make
matters worse many fra-
in 1929-30. In 1928-29 there were 169 more un-       ternities, encouraged
by the prosperity of the mid-
dergraduate men enrolled than in the previous year,   dle twenties, had purchased
or built new houses at
but fraternity membership had decreased by 57. In     extravagant figures
paying down a relatively small
1930-31 there were 258 more men enrolled than        sum and securing a mortgage
or floating a bond issue
in 1927-28 but fraternity membership was 113 less.   for the balance. This
practise was so general that a
   The immediate reflection of hard times in frater-  survey made last year
showed that of 29 fraternities
nity statistics and the temporarily continued increase  which held nominal
title to property, 27 had en-
in enrollment are of course not inexplicable phenom-  cumbrances ranging
from 30 to 100 per cent of the
ena.  Many students who made all their plans to      assessed valuation of
the property and only two were
come to college, came in spite of the stormy weather  entirely free from
debt.
which the economic barometer forecast, hoping that
the storm would blow over. But those same stu-          A   SUMMARY picture
of what the depression
dents hesitated to commit themselves to the addi-    did to fraternities
at Wisconsin is presented in the
tional expense involved in fraternity membership.    following table:
It should be noted that a similar tendency to curtail  SOCIAL FRATERNITY
MEMBERSHIP, UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN
 1927-28 to 1935-36
                                                           Year Undergraduate
Men affiliated  Percent of  Number
             The Chi Phi fraternity house                          males
       with fra-  male under-  of
                                                                   enrolled
   ternities    grads in  chapters
            Typical of the Wisconsin residences                         
                   fraternities
                                                          1927-28    4450
        1 8 850      41.5      50
                                                          1928-29'   461
9        1 7 93       3 8.8     48
                                                          1 929-3 0  4 808
       1 173 7      3 6.1     4 7
                                /                        ~~~~~~~1930-31'4640
      1 605        3 4.5     46
                                                          193 1-3 2  4403
        1422         3 2.2     44
                                                          1 932-33   40-79X
      1 221        29.9      41
                                                          1933-34'   389
8        1 2 76       3 2.7     4 0
                                                          1 9 34-3 5 448
6        1 27 9       28.5      3 9
                                                          1 9 35-3 6 502
3        13 67        27.2      3 9
                                                            OnIt will be
noted immediately that while the de-
                                                          dline in fraternity
membership reflected and ,even
                                                          anticibvated ithe
decline in enrollment, it has only
                                                          partially reflected
the strong increase in enrollment
                                                       <, since 1934.
 The result is a continuation of the
                                                          steady decline
in the percentage of undergraduate men
                                                          affiliated with
fraternities.
                                                            One important
factor in the picture which should
                                                          not, ke, overlooked
is the effect on both enrollment
         180


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