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May 03, 2012 10:00 AM Princeton vs. Frats

By Daniel Luzer

Princeton apparently plans to crack down on fraternities. Princeton, however, doesn’t actually have fraternities. That’s sort of the problem.

According to an Associated Press article in the Star-Ledger:

In keeping with a belief that fraternities and sororities promote social exclusiveness, Princeton University says any freshman who joins, rushes or pledges to a Greek organization starting this fall will face suspension.
The Ivy League school has a long-standing policy of not officially recognizing fraternities or sororities, and says any student who solicits the participation of freshmen in Greek organizations this fall will also face suspension.

While Princeton doesn’t recognize Greek organizations, students who have completed their freshman year can pledge with no punishment. About 15 percent of Princeton students are members of fraternities or sororities.

In explaining her desire to crack down on the Greek system, Princeton President Shirley Tilghman
said back in 2010 that
:

Those [students] who made the decision to participate in the Greek system were essentially engaging in organizations where they were going to meet people very similar to themselves. It looked and felt a lot like self-segregation. And that was a problem for us.

I’m not going to be a big defender of the Greek system here, what with the many, many creepy scandals going on lately but come on, you’re Princeton.

Princeton is home to eating clubs, for God’s sake. The eating clubs are eleven private mansions that resemble both dining halls and social houses. About half of them are selective, meaning they’re exactly like fraternities, just less democratic.

But Princeton’s efforts to control the eating clubs have been, well, troublesome. Back in 1907 then Princeton President Woodrow Wilson viewed the institutions as too elitist and tried to destroy them. The board of trustees objected and forced Wilson to withdraw his plan to reorganize the institution and eliminate eating clubs.

The unrecognized fraternities, however, will likely be easier to control.

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer

Comments

  • Scu on May 03, 2012 11:05 AM:

    My understanding is that first years cannot join eating clubs, either. Eating clubs, much like Yale's secret societies, are strictly upperclassman issue. So, I really don't see what your problem is. Do you disagree with Princeton's policy?

  • Jackson on May 03, 2012 12:26 PM:

    In addition to what scu said, the eating clubs are co-ed, which makes another notable difference from single-sex fraternities and sororities.

  • Laura on May 03, 2012 3:19 PM:

    Am I missing the point here? Isn't anyone attending Princeton already in an exclusive club?