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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 182


182                                                                     
            The Wisconsin Alumnus
ture of things, effect a change in the attitude of fra-    duced accounting
supervision and cooperative buying
ternity men or in the direction in which fraternities      without consulting
the fraternities on the matter.
are moving simply by promulgating rules or regula-         But this course
involves a degree of paternalism which
tions.  Fraternities, like all groups, are jealous of     Wisconsin has never
permitted.
their freedom and are quick to resent limitations on         Are the aims
of the fraternity compatible with the
it. On the other hand, they must, if they are to sur-      objectives of
the University?  If one's answer to this
vive, be responsive to the changing values and atti-       question is based
on statements of fraternity leaders,
tudes of the men who are to be their future members.       it must be a very
positive "yes."   The "Fraternity
  There are hopeful signs.   Fraternities have, inso-     Criteria"
adopted a year ago by the national inter-
far as their mortgage commitments allowed, reduced         fraternity conference
states:  "We consider the fra-
charges for board and room, initiation fees, house         ternity responsible
for a positive contribution to the
bonds.  It costs substantially less to join a fraternity  primary functions
of the colleges and universities ...
at Wisconsin today than it did ten years ago.    But       and further, that
it should create an atmosphere
costs must be reduced further.  Such reductions may        which will stimulate
substantial intellectual progress
force evacuation of elaborate houses built on sites        and superior intellectual
achievement."  On the basis
whose assessed valuation is out of all proportion to       of performance
a somewhat different answer to the
their utility value; may require reductions in high        question is indicated.
 The chart below indicates that
national fraternity dues, the introduction of the co-      during the past
ten years, the scholastic average of all
operative work idea into fraternity house manage-          fraternity men
at Wisconsin has been noticeably low-
ment, the extension of the cooperative buying plan,        er than that of
their non-fraternity fellows.
and a University-supervised system of cost account-            SCHOLASTIC
AVERAGE, MEN STUDENTS, 1927-1936
ing.  Whatever re-adjustments 6r innovations are                        
                             Difference Be-
involved, the net result must be that the cost of                      All
Men   Non-Frat. Fraternity tween Non-
living in fraternities closely approximates the figure                  
           Men       Men     Frat. U Frat.
at which comparable services are provided in Uni-                       
                                Men
versity dormitories.                                       1927-28      
1.280     1.307      1.259       .048
                                                           1928-29      1.280
     1.291      1.271      .020
  I DO not mean to imply that there must be a lev-        1929-30       1.344
     1.394     1.296       .098
                                                           1 930-3 1    1.3
59     1.403      1.3 07     .096
eling process which will force all fraternities to a com-  193 1-32     
1.440     1.471      1.39f7      .074
mon standard of living.   The problem of determin-         1932-33      
1.513     1.542      1.467       .075
ing what its standard of living is to be is one for        1933-34      
1.494     1.536      1.436      .100
                                                           1 934-3 5    1.477
     1.5 19     1.405      .114
each fraternity to meet individually.   But it seems       193 -36      
1.38 9    1.420      1.319      .101
obvious that the majority of the fraternities must            This is the
more remarkable when we recall that
reduce their costs if they are to continue to attract      the fraternity
group, as a whole, enjoys a higher
men.                                                       economic status
than the non-fraternity     one, that
  But to reduce costs is only half a solution.  The       fewer of its members
have to resort to outside work
fraternity must become an efficient business unit.  It     to finance themselves,
and that the fraternity men
is no more possible for a fraternity to operate under      are better housed
and cared for than the non-frater-
a staggering load of accounts receivable than it is for    nity ones. As
I see it, the fraternities must choose be-
any other business to do so. The day when half the         tween two alternative
alibis to explain their deficiency
chapter could be carried on the cuff is gone.  Indeed     in this regard.
Either their present method of recruit-
it never existed in fact.  Two thirds of the present       ing tends to select
less intelligent men; or the atmos-
economic distress of fraternities is directly treaceable   phere of the fraternity
house is not conducive to study.
to the inefficient management of the late twenties.
That the fraternities, nationally   and   locally, are       IT  is unfair,
of course, to indict all fraternities on
keenly aware of this problem is indicated by the in-       this count.  Approximately
half of the clubs annu-
creasingly wide spread introduction of alumni and          ally maintain
a house average well in excess of the
graduate managers, the patronage of professional ac-       non-fraternity
average.  But the fact remains that,
counting firms, and the practise, increasingly gaining     taken as a group,
they have consistently failed to
in favor, of operating on a cash basis, both with          sustain their
contention that the fraternity, as an in-
members and merchants.                                                  
         stitution, has established itself
   In this connection it is a                                      .    
A        as a scholastic asset.
littledisheartening  to  recall                                         
           Here too, there are encour-
that an off er extended by the                                          
         aging signs. This fall prospec-
University   student  financial                                    .    
         tive pledges stormed the Dean
advisor to   undertake  super-                                          
         of Men's office for information
vision of accounts for a small                                          
         on the various groups, and in
number of fraternities, at half                                         
    ,    most cases, the first question
the going commercial rate, had                                          
         was "How     does this or that
no  takers  last spring; and                            ^               
         group   rank   scholastically?"
that the Fraternity Buyers Go-                                          
  '      Perhaps, here again, pressure
operative, a non-profit organ-                                          
         from prospective members will
ization supervised by Univer-                                           
         effect what continual prodding
sity officers, enrolls only about                                       
 X    _,,, from administrative officers has
one half of the fraternities in                                     --7 7
-----~  failed to produce.
its fifth  year  of  existence.             Some of nature's handiwork  
           Rushing    has been   a per-
Other universities have intro-            Campus trees after a heavy snow
            (Please turn to page 209)


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