Letter to the Editor: Past editorial flawed

To the Editor:

The editorial, “Administration too power-hungry to realize realities,” (Feb. 17) presents an argument that is logically invalid. Moreover, even if we revise the argument to make it valid, its premises ignore the complexity of the issue. The editorial’s argument is as follows:

1) The University should be designed to prepare students to succeed in our capitalist society.

2) In a recent study, it was found that there is a correlation between social drinking and post-graduation income levels.

3) Greek Life promotes social drinking.

4) Restrictions on Greek Life will lower the post-graduation income levels of students.

5) Restrictions on Greek Life are against what the University is designed to do.

The reason this argument is invalid is because it confuses correlation with causation. The same students who socialize happen to be the same students who become high earners. This doesn’t at all imply that socializing will result in one becoming a higher earner. It could mean that there exists some third factor–such as being an affluent person–which causes you to socialize at a higher rate and to become a high earner. The editor might revise Clause II with a more plausible and logically valid claim, such as: networking causes a student to be a higher earner. However, once such a correction is made, it becomes clear that Greek Life, while it might promote networking, is certainly not the only way to do it–study groups also promote networking.

Clause I ignores the complexity of the University’s mission. A liberal arts university is not specifically designed to provide vocational training and its success should not be based solely on the wealth of its alumni–its mission is much more complex. It should at least offer students knowledge in a broad range of subjects and promote research. This is not to say that frat parties don’t offer some sort of knowledge and that they could not be a fruitful area in which to conduct research, although frat parties probably won’t teach you how to distinguish between valid and invalid arguments.

All that said, I do in some ways agree with the editor. The University should not restrict Greek Life, but it shouldn’t support it either. It might be better if Greek houses were not on University property, if there were no deans of Greek Life–instead I might suggest a scholarship for a student interested in studying the Greek language and culture–and public safety wasn’t monitoring Greek houses. The University might be better off if it treated students like citizens and left such monitoring to our societal infrastructures that are designed for it: the law and police.


Aaron Meyers

Graduate Assistant in Sculpture

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