Frats Nightmarish

Caitlin Flanagan’s monster fraternities story in the Atlantic turns out to be, eventually and at last, a story about… the insurance industry. Which actually makes it more fascinating, not less! This is particularly intriguing:

Despite everything you may think you know about life on frat row, there are actually only two [Fraternal Information and Programming Group]-approved means of serving drinks at a frat party. The first is to hire a third-party vendor who will sell drinks and to whom some liability—most significant, that of checking whether drinkers are of legal age—will be transferred. The second and far more common is to have a BYO event, in which the liability for each bottle of alcohol resides solely in the person who brought it. If you think this is in any way a casual system, then you have never read either the FIPG risk-management manual or its sister publication, an essay written in the surrealist vein titled “Making Bring Your Own Beverage Events Happen.”

It gets worse, and so much weirder. But in short: do not let your child join a frat unless you want to be eventually sued and/or bankrupted.

Also. It’s pretty rich that Flanagan opens her story on fraternities with someone shoving fireworks up his ass and ends it by castigating Wesleyan for blaming a rape victim for her own assault, but then, when she goes to catalogue the events that instigate lawsuits at frats, she describes as a common occurrence a “particular variety of sexual torture reserved for hazing and best not described in the gentle pages of this magazine.” What is this coy business??? How gentle indeed are these pages???