Criticism of exclusionary college Greek culture is at an all-time high after a video of a University of Oklahoma frat chanting a racist epithet went viral earlier this month. Now, even former Greek life members are speaking up about it.
Enter Will Ferrell, who became famous for playing a frat boy himself early in his career and was a member of Delta Tau Delta at USC. The actor pointed to the recent Oklahoma incident as a reason to discontinue the system altogether in a New York Times Q&A session. When asked by a current member of his own fraternity if, considering the “awful situation with SAE has brought out the “frat haters” in droves,” Ferrell provided a balanced response.
“The incident in Oklahoma, that is a real argument for getting rid of the system altogether, in my opinion, even having been through a fraternity. Because when you break it down, it really is about creating cliques and clubs and being exclusionary. Fraternities were started as academic societies that were supposed to have a philanthropic arm to them. And when it’s governed by those kind of rules, then they’re still beneficial. But you gotta be careful.”
To that end, Ferrell defended his own time in a fraternity as a lighthearted, goofy experience far more similar to the characters he played in films like Old School than the current behaviors being called into question. He continued:
“I was lucky in that the one I was in, we were really kind of the anti-fraternity fraternity. We were considered good enough to get the exchanges with the good sororities. We couldn’t get anyone to vote on anything, but if you needed 40 guys to show up and build a 20-foot-tall papier-mâché version of the Matterhorn, we were there and ready. But we didn’t take it too seriously. It was just about having fun. But I think it’s an interesting dilemma for universities these days.”
An interesting dilemma indeed, and not one that will be going away any time soon – with piece after piece showing that these organizations are under a microscope, current brothers and sisters may want to hold off on that bulk order of Solo cups.