After centuries of American idiots drinking beer and doing stupid things, someone is finally taking a stand. Insurance companies! But also, The Atlantic's Caitlin Flanagan, in a new investigative piece, "The Dark Power of Fraternities." The occult forces seem to lie in dumb kids getting shit-faced falling to their deaths.
You'll have to scroll to the end of Flanagan's freakout to read anything meaningful about sexual assault, creepy lawyers, or other collegiate ills. The bulk of the piece is anecdotes of plummeting coeds, a sort of John Landis version of 2666's "The Part About the Crimes," starting with this tale from Marshall University's Alpha Tau Omega house:
When the bottle rocket exploded in Hughes's rectum, Helmburg was seized by the kind of battlefield panic that has claimed brave men from outfits far more illustrious than even the Thundering Herd. Terrified, he staggered away from the human bomb and fell off the deck.
If this isn't enough to keep you away from the Greek system, Flanagan has lots more where that came from:
Amanda rolled onto her shoulder toward the exterior wall, and suddenly, quickly, and unexpectedly dropped off Cook's mattress into the open exterior window, falling from the third-floor 'sleeping porch' to the cement approximately 25 feet below.
A 20-year-old man named Shane Meyer had fallen from the third-floor window of the Delta Tau Delta house just 12 days before Andaverde's fall from SAE
I discovered that two months after Andaverde's fall, a 20-year-old student at Washington State—"quite intoxicated," in the laconic assessment of a local cop—pitched forward and fell from a third-floor window of Alpha Kappa Lambda, escaping serious injury when his fall was broken by an SUV parked below
In September, a student suffered serious injuries after falling off the roof of the Alpha Tau Omega house at the University of Idaho, and two days later a Washington State student fell three stories from a window at Phi Kappa Tau.
In November, a 19-year-old suffered critical head injuries when he fell backwards off a second-floor balcony at the Washington State Lambda Chi Alpha house, necessitating the surgical removal of part of his skull.
In April, a University of Idaho student named Krysta Huft filed a suit against the Delta Chi fraternity, seeking damages for a broken pelvis resulting from a 2011 fall, which she claims was from the house's third-story sleeping porch onto a basketball court beneath it.
Across the country, kids fall—disastrously—from the upper heights of fraternity houses with some regularity. They tumble from the open windows they are trying to urinate out of, slip off roofs, lose their grasp on drainpipes, misjudge the width of fire-escape landings.
On February 25, 2012, a student at the University of California at Berkeley attempted to climb down the drainpipe of the Phi Gamma Delta house, fell, and suffered devastating injuries
On April 14 of the same year, a 21-year-old student at Gannon University, in Pennsylvania, died after a fall from the second-floor balcony of the Alpha Phi Delta house the night before; on May 13
A Cornell student was airlifted to a trauma center after falling from the fire escape at Delta Chi; on October 13
A student at James Madison University fell from the roof of the three-story Delta Chi house and was airlifted to the University of Virginia hospital
On December 1, a 19-year-old woman fell eight feet from the Sigma Alpha Mu house at Penn State.
Jesus Christ, these frats are slippery. And what—oh, there's more:
This summer brought little relief. On July 13, a man fell more than 30 feet from a third-story window at the Theta Delta Chi house at the University of Washington
That same day, a Dartmouth College employee, apparently having consumed LSD and marijuana, fell out of a second-story window of the Sigma Nu house and was seriously injured.
On August 13, a student at the University of Oklahoma fell face-first off a balcony of the SAE house; the next day, a woman fell from a second-story fire escape at Phi Kappa Tau at Washington State University.
The current school year began, and still the falls continued.
Fuck! Watch out!
In September, a student at Washington State fell down a flight of stairs in the Delta Chi house and was rendered unconscious; a University of Minnesota student was hospitalized after falling off a second-floor balcony of the Phi Kappa Psi house; a Northwestern student was listed in critical condition after falling out of a third-floor window of the Phi Gamma Delta house; and an MIT student injured his head and genitals after falling through a skylight at the Phi Sigma Kappa house and landing some 40 feet below.
It's raining men. Yes, this is all really bad. Dying is bad, and dying after slipping in a puddle of Keystone Light and breaking your skull in a frat shrub is a particularly bad death. Greek-letter houses, according to Flanagan's research, seem to occupy some sort of gravitational vortex compared to other structures with floors and windows:
During the period of time under consideration, serious falls from fraternity houses on the two Palouse campuses far outnumbered those from other types of student residences, including privately owned apartments occupied by students.
This leads Flanagan to ask us, "Why are so many colleges allowing students to live and party in such unsafe locations?" It's a good question, and one I wish I'd been asked before I indemnified my own college fraternity against any wrongdoing, short of me being stabbed in my sleep after a house-wide conspiracy. Our house was insured by some incredibly shady Caribbean firm—the only place stupid enough to insure frat houses—and policy payments were the only dues that ever came in on time.
I was apparently plain lucky to have never fallen off a roof, but others are not. This can't stand—in the war between white kids in khaki shorts and physics, it's not even close. They're being massacred. But if we connect Flanagan's dots and abolish the American Greek system, we would only release these drunk and clumsy men into other perilous areas, impaling themselves on jungle gyms, slipping into sewers, and trying to scale hydroelectric dams. Rather than do away with the Greek system, let's just childproof it: it's the houses that are killing our children, with their open windows and ledges. If fraternities were confined to tents, bouncy castles, basements, or any other structure without floors or windows, there'd be nothing to fall out of or onto. Pledging a fraternity once again becomes safe and wholesome—just some guys hanging out and adhering to American values, laughing it up, and sometimes kissing.