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Heidy Lee / Gavel Media

Fraternities are Racist, Especially in Boston

When you ask a typical Boston College student what their weekend plans include, you’re likely to hear “fratting” in the mix. Since BC is a Jesuit school, there are neither fraternities nor sororities permitted on campus. Students must then travel to other campuses in the Boston area, such as Harvard, Boston University, and Northeastern, to get their fill of "fratting." What many students fail to realize is that BC’s policy of banning frats is actually quite progressive, and helps keep racist and sexist institutions off of BC’s campus. Many BC students have mentioned either first hand stories or rumors of racist and sexist behaviors at the frats at the schools in the Boston area. 

Racism is built into the very structure of fraternities. As college campuses began to accept more students from the middle and lower social classes in addition to accepting more minorities, fraternities emerged as spaces where predominantly white and rich students could isolate themselves from the newly and progressively diverse student body. Many fraternities added rules that one had to be Christian or “Aryan” to join, specifically shutting out Jewish students and students of color. While it became less socially acceptable for fraternities to contain these clauses and act discriminatory due to the civil rights movement, they still held onto their freedom to accept whomever they wished, keeping their institutions predominantly white. While they like to “see themselves as colorblind,” they only state this interest in diversity and continue accepting very small numbers of non-white men as brothers. 

Due to their racist history, it is unsurprising, yet still anger-inducing, when fraternities participate in racist incidents. Many of these incidents make news, and prove the racism that frats perpetuate. At UChicago in particular, fraternities have hung Confederate flags, used racial slurs, and have asked pledges to perform examples of exaggerated racist stereotypes as a kind of “hazing.” Additionally, frats also commonly engage in sexism. Again, using the UChicago fraternity as an example, certain brothers had laid out rules for which women were appropriate for the other brothers to sleep with. Administrators have still not suspended the fraternity. The culture that these fraternities foster is one of racism, and allows students at university to be racist towards others or engage in racist acts with little to no risk of punishment while their other, mostly white, fraternity "brothers" turn a blind eye.

As aforementioned, many BC students have faced racism and sexism while trying to participate in the very popular frat culture that is embedded deep in Boston and its educational institutions. These incidents have occurred so often that rumors of frats that are specifically racist have been spread through the student body: most notably, Harvard and Boston University have been said to have certain frats that engage in racist behavior. I personally have witnessed racist behavior firsthand at Boston University frats. Last month, I went out “fratting” with my friends. We were waiting in line for one specific frat, which we had already been waiting to get in for almost the whole night. They were telling me, my friends, and the two girls in front of us that the frat was at capacity. While I am white, my friends are people of color as well as the two girls who were in front of us. In the same breath they were telling us that they were at capacity, they let in a large group of girls who were all white. While not as serious as other offenses from other fraternities at colleges around the nation, it still is a prominent example of the perpetuation of racism that exists in frats today and how it manifests in the frat brothers’ behavior. While none of us want to stop “fratting” soon, we must not allow fraternity brothers to diminish our regard for ourselves and others. 

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