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Colleges at the Crossroads

Taking Sides on Contested Issues

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Edited By Joseph L. DeVitis and Pietro A. Sasso

Focusing on crucial issues in higher education, this book challenges readers to go beyond taken-for-granted assumptions about America’s colleges and universities and instead critically examine important questions facing them in today’s troubled world. Each chapter presents divergent perspectives, that is, "pro" and "con" views, in the hope of stimulating reasoned dialogue among students, faculty, administrators, and the public at large. Readers will explore how internal factors in the academic community often interact with external social, economic, and political influences to produce conflictual results. They will see that academe is hardly value-neutral and inevitably political. This book urges them to transcend strident political persuasion and instead engage in the careful analysis needed to make colleges better.

The text provides in-depth appraisal of key topics of controversy: the purposes of higher education, liberal education, academic freedom, political correctness, tenure, shared governance, faculty workload, admissions tests, student learning, Greek life, the worth of college, equity and social justice, athletics, student entitlement, technology and distance instruction, and college amenities. The book will appeal to students, faculty, staff, and all those interested in the future of higher education. It is especially useful for courses in contemporary issues in higher education, foundations of higher education, higher education and society, college student development, and the organization and administration of higher education.

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Part Fifteen: Are Fraternities and Sororities Still Relevant in Higher Education?

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Part Fifteen:  Are Fraternities and Sororities Still Relevant in Higher Education?

In “Are Fraternities and Sororities Still Relevant?” Ashley Tull and Kathy Cavins-Tull analyze Greek life, including its associated umbrella organizations, to distill the larger context of its national network and influence on American higher education. They argue for its continuing relevance despite widespread media criticism. The authors claim that fraternities and sororities offer opportunities for a sense of belonging, student success, and social support systems for mental health. For culturally based Greek organizations, in particular, they can afford feelings of mutual identity and community service benefits. In general, they crystallize values and augment leadership development. Tull and Cavins-Tull urge such organizations to reaffirm their commitment to the academic mission—one that requires consistent support from university leadership and concerned alumni.

In “Fraternities and Sororities in the Contemporary Era Revisited: A Pendulum of Tolerance,” Pietro A. Sasso provides a brief history of the academy’s relationship with Greek life and argues that the latter is no longer relevant to university ideals. He claims that residential functions and developmental gains can be replicated by other campus programs and initiatives. The chapter cites case examples at several universities where Greek organizations have been eliminated or curtailed in their activities. Sasso contends that, if fraternities and sororities are to continue, the parent institutions will need to exert greater jurisdiction and accountability through certified advisors and additional supervisors. Greek groups will need to be measured on outcomes...

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