Matt Feeney has written a perceptive and provacative review about a provocative book: Pledged: The Secret Life of Sororities by Alexandra Robbins:
Dwelling on these public health risks inevitably serves to justify an expansion of authority for campus behavior cops and campus experts in mental hygiene. This authoritarian tendency is ubiquitous in Pledged. Robbins observes that "[e]veryday life in a sorority house generally goes unsupervised. The only adult who lives there is the 'House Mom.' . . ." It's disconcerting to have to point out to a recent college graduate that most sorority houses are populated exclusively by "adults," as that term is legally understood. It's even more disconcerting to register a hankering to impose a more exacting regime of supervision on these adults. But this is exactly what Robbins is up to.
. . .
But this emphasis on top-down authoritarian corrections prevents her from making a much more telling criticism of sororities. The intellectually honest thing would be to admit that some sorority girls have a total blast--and then to acknowledge how that might be the real problem. A university education is supposed to be about the cultivation of certain tastes, the refinement of one's capacity to experience pleasure. It's hard to see how sorority fun accords with this, and, thus, why sororities should be officially recognized student organizations. It would be refreshing to hear a college administrator address the issue of sororities not as an excuse to expand administrative authority over student behavior but to assert the primacy of a liberal arts education in an increasingly corporate university environment: If college women want to form exclusive social groups off campus, without a university imprimatur--a college president might say--they should be free to do that. But a college education should be about the cultivation of those pleasures specifically associated with liberal learning.
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