Thursday’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearing gave the world a glimpse at the lives of privileged American boys in high school and college in the 1980s. The culture of parties, drinking, and sexual abuse is — to this day — very much a part of fraternity life on colleges and university campuses across America. And while many successful businessmen, lawyers, and politicians consider the day they joined their fraternity to be one of the most important days of their lives, fraternities are often just safe spaces for excessive drinking, class privilege, and sometimes criminal behavior.
That’s the view of journalist John Hechinger. In this week’s WhoWhatWhy podcast, he talks with Jeff Schechtman about what goes on inside today’s fraternities. He exposes the sexism, rape, and general sadism among young men happy to pay annual dues of $7,000 or more to be part of these exclusive groups.
Hechinger takes a deep dive into the fraternity SAE, which some have said stands for “Sexual Assault Expected.” He recounts stories of women having been raped at SAE parties in Georgia — and explains why such behavior has been tolerated by both administrators and alumni. All in all, he says, the dehumanizing hazing rituals enforced at some fraternities place them among the most anachronistic institutions operating in America.
Hechinger is the author of True Gentlemen: The Broken Pledge of America’s Fraternities(PublicAffairs, September 26, 2017).