Belated respect for Greek life

Fraternities and sororities harbor and nurture more than their fair share of worse-than-useless assholes, and nothing that I’m about to write will change this. That said, they aren’t totally without merit. Occasionally they perform unexpected mitzvahs for their host societies.

Some of them, for example, maintain exam and term paper archives for their members. Academic cheating is wrong on its intrinsic merits, but we ought to keep in mind the contexts in which students resort to it. My alma mater, as I’ve bitched about at some length, is a deeply corrupt institution that incidentally presides over a generally aboveboard and rigorous academic program. The faculty keep their own departments in good moral and intellectual order but are hopeless to cleanse their host institution of its seedy, idiotic boiler-room fraud. (They finally have a prayer with the installation of one of their own, Neil Weissman, as interim president, but I wouldn’t count on his having a long enough presidency to change the tone, and I certainly wouldn’t count on the search committee to dredge up as his replacement anyone of moral character.) In this context, fraternities with libraries of cheat sheets on file are practically the only campus organizations with the courage of their own shitty convictions. They admit, if only privately, that they are sincerely corrupt, and also competently so. They don’t just insinuate promises of a lifetime of successful influence-peddling by virtue of association with a prestigious institution; they actually hook a brother up with the good stuff.

When Greek organizations get caught pulling this kind of shit, they also tend to inspire enough popular disgust among the unaffiliated to force a measure of reform. Their crookedness is crude where that of their host institutions is smooth. They’re Robert Pickton to Bill Durden’s Russell Williams. Profitable collegiate athletic programs are similarly crude when they get caught retaining their staff Gellins. No one who’s been paying attention would expect the Fighting Irish not to maintain an incel dork pool to do their student (sic) athletes’ (not sic) schoolwork, but these cryptoprofessional sports franchises are too clumsy not to fall afoul of their host institutions’ hypocritical conceits of scholarship whenever they’re lured into the sunlight.

Speaking of Bill Durden and Scholars, the former, a Greek alumnus himself, had some scathing things to say about Greek life on behalf of the latter during his own presidency. He was reputed, at least, to want to abolish Greek life on campus but lamented the chronic failure of unaffiliated alumni to hold a candle to Greek alumni for donations to Alma Mater, Tried and True. As a certifiable chickenshit, Durden did nothing to actually banish the fraternities and sororities from campus, although the Office of Greek Life (a badly disturbed crowd in its own right) yanked a frat charter or two on account of extremely disorderly conduct at parties, something that the City of Sacramento is far too corrupt to do to troublesome bars on #TheKay.

I wasn’t on the fraternities’ side when they acted like badly dressed drunks in Midtown Sacramento. That shit is never what a campus needs. What finally brought me over to their side, at least tepidly, was the Insurance Schmuck telling me that he had apparently offended some Greeks by going back to campus to give a career advice talk and lecturing his audience to wait until graduation to start drinking.

Good for them. In his own college days, the Insurance Schmuck was a notorious manwhore who was at the center of at least three separate love triangles (the second side of all three being a longtime girlfriend whom he and his parents smeared as an incorrigible slut whenever she got herself a taste of strange). His own renowned sobriety until October of his senior year managed to reliably include a full bottle of NyQuil at bedtime. That October was when he took up with his senior-year campus girlfriend, a loudmouthed drunkard who found his NyQuil habit horrifying and made him quit it cold turkey. In its place, she got him bigly into hard liquor. Notwithstanding that the one time I took an alcoholic cough medicine for a cold I found it too disgusting to envy anyone for using such a thing as a nightcap, a man who spent his own college years as a cockhound with a substance abuse problem should not be eliding all his own demons in his public comments and lecturing current students about the importance of youthful asceticism and delayed gratification to their future careers.

It’s healthy for the audience to express offense at such a lecture, even disgust. The last thing the United States needs is another moral panic about substance abuse.

The Insurance Schmuck’s lecture was even worse than a standard sober living sermon, which might have had some moral basis, however crackpot and Manichean. He told them that if they got good grades, they’d make good money after graduation and would have their entire careers to drink excessively, since they’d have several weeks of vacation time a year. In addition to his roughly doubling the amount of vacation time that the average white-collar worker in the US today actually takes, he warned them that if they didn’t buckle down and sober up now, they might end up trashing their own employment prospects after graduation.

This is exactly the same song, but with a different, less dope beat, as the highbrow screeds that keep being leveled at junkies in flyover country for being useless to the modern economy. It’s Kevin Williamson shit. It’s fucking vile, honestly. The junkies and drunks themselves don’t maintain bad habits in order to run managerial-class psyops on the recalcitrant poors. As a rule of thumb, they get into that shit because they live in bad socioeconomic environments and are desperate to numb the pain. That’s hardly any less true of college students, who come under truly insane pressure to succeed. That’s why so many of them drop Adderall, the drug that fucked me up like no other.

Psychological counseling will hardly dent this problem. A patient cannot be counseled to a state of genuine and lasting health in an environment so fundamentally pathological. Student health services don’t break rice bowls, though, certainly not the way a proliferating NEET horde might. Our colleges are full of chickenshits who don’t dare criticize institutions, no matter how blatantly troubled they are, and random drunks in the student body are not institutions.

As a political aside, much of this shifting of blame from toxic institutions onto nonconforming individuals is being driven by affluent Democrats, so: Hail Trump! Hail Homeland! Hail reputed CIA asset Spencer!

This shit is too insane to grasp all at once. And no, I’m not referring to some Nazi cosplay nerd who was recently given a platform on NPR for purposes of objective journalistic balance and Monty Robinson for Sheriff. (Northside Juice is too hotep sober for our current purposes. Also, he seems to be from Toronto, while Sauce Boss has ties to BC crack country, where RCMP sergeants are known to be purveyors to the home bake market.)

The Insurance Schmuck and his family have been in a state of perennial emotional distress on account of his failson younger brother, who screwed around for a couple of years at a low-tier private college, dropped out, and eventually landed a part-time job stocking groceries, which he’s now held for close to a year. The Insurance Schmuck told me, almost verbatim, that Failson Brother screwed himself over by getting terrible grades and that this is why he’s now “begging for more hours at Giant.” Between me and Failson Brother, these affluent handwringers should be able to tell by now that the job market is not too fucking strong. I’ve been plenty open about my own difficulty finding work, and the overstaffing of a major grocery store in a region of the Philadelphia suburbs that is supposedly one of the economically healthiest in the country should be a strong indication that the labor market is in fact objectively slack.

To be frank, Failson Brother was never strong college material. I was around him quite a bit for several years, and I’m still in touch with him after a fashion on Facebook. He never seemed to have the combined academic aptitude, drive, and focus to succeed in college-level coursework. Of course, we might ask what the hell college is, or even join Zachary Karabell for an evening of preposition abuse and ask what it’s for. As to the latter, not a hell of a lot these days. As to the former, college-level coursework is subject to a modified Potter Stewart Rule: I know it when I see it, but political considerations forbid me to define it. Since we’re on the subject, we’re too vanilla to need a disturbed bastard like Mapplethorpe around here, but we are very much about that bass when it’s bared by a stark-naked Newport hooker.

Let not your hearts be trebled. Failson Brother might become college material over time, but he wasn’t when he matriculated. This was obvious enough to me that I was surprised to hear that he had enrolled in a four-year institution, albeit one that the Insurance Schmuck would have mercilessly smeared as a safety school beneath contempt had anyone but one of his troubled loved ones enrolled there. He sounded appalled that the school had strung his parents along for tuition money instead of expelling his brother for basically not going to class. As long as the tuition payments cleared, the school was happy to keep the kid on the rolls. It welcomed the money and the cash. But so does pretty much every private college in the country except for Reed. Few schools expel jerkoffs for getting poor grades per se; they actually expel them to make room for neurotic go-getters who will enable the optimized gaslighting of US News and World Report for ultimate financial advantage. This is a crude, crude business.

Here’s something else that should be discussed frankly: Failson Brother is statistically and culturally mainstream and the Insurance Schmuck is not. Trying to get more hours at Giant is much, much more common than being a top producer of anything. No one would pretend that underemployed grocery stockers are socioeconomic nonentities if they turned out to vote at the same rates as the 97th income percentile. Okay, the Clinton machine might still be that obtuse, given its heroic effort to erase the working class from American politics because it’s 2016 already. But the Clinton machine would never have wormed its way in from the political margins in the first place had the labor vote consistently asserted itself over the past forty years. They never would have gotten away with their absurd assertion that everyone should either stay in school or go die in a gutter. They would have been bitchslapped to the stature of David Duke for having the vile temerity to suggest such a thing. Instead, everyone’s like, stay in school. Don’t be a quitter and a loser. Graduate. Take the car and go to San Jose, for what good that might do. See if she says yes. And I’m like, I lives here, can I come in? Not that I can count on any of them to hear me through the SWPL cocoon; they’re usually too busy spinning another layer.

Forget solidarity and the whiny little faggot Lech Walesa must have been to carry on about that horseshit. Our college boys and girls today hardly even have a sense of fellow feeling. They’ve succeeded, so everyone who hasn’t must have a substance abuse problem or something. Toss the deplorables into the basket and chuck the basket across the Styx. The rest of us can’t have nice things because the educated have achieved exactly the full internal secession that Christopher Lasch predicted, to his own burgeoning horror. They’re acting more and more like highbrow Venezuelans, and they’re horrified that we’re acting like lowbrow Venezuelans.

Hail Chavez, I guess. We might want to stock up on toilet paper. That wouldn’t be the first consumer product whose production we’ve foolishly sent to China.

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One thought on “Belated respect for Greek life

  1. As a Dickinson graduate who lived in Sacramento for the past year and a half, this is fascinating to me. I’d love to chat with you sometime if you are available. I visit Sacramento often, please reach out via e-mail.

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