The movie Animal House, and John Belushi’s character Bluto, did as much as anything to popularize the bacchanalian excesses of frat life on college campuses.

But there’s an obvious downside to a bunch of unsupervised, mostly underage college students binge drinking at a frat house. Deaths, serious injuries, and sexual assaults have led to countless lawsuits that at one time threatened to destroy Greek life on campuses across the country.

And yet they’ve survived – and even thrived – because colleges are reluctant to crack down, and fraternities have found a way to protect themselves.

Caitlin Flanagan is a contributor to Atlantic Magazine. She has spent a year delving into frat life on campuses across the country. She begins her article, titled “The Dark Power of Fraternities,” with a vignette of a boy on the back deck of a frat house. He decides it might be a good idea to set off a bottle rocket from his posterior. His friend whips out his cell phone to catch the fun on video. But when the explosion goes wrong, the budding videographer panics, falls off the deck, and gets wedged between an air conditioner and the frat house.

Things go downhill from there…

Brianna Sacks, editor-in-chief of Neon Tommy, a digital news site at USC, joins the conversation to discuss frat happenings at USC’s Greek row. Last year alcohol-related incidents caused a crackdown on USC frats.

Photo via pikappNSU (used under Creative Commons license)  

  • rdomain

    I think you also need to look at Asian fraternities.. there was a great writeup about them in the Daily Beast a few years ago.