Greek Life and the Double-Edged Sword of Organizational Culture

Over the past few weeks and months, there have been a number of campuses struggling with how to deal with their fraternities and Greek Life culture.  Fraternities and sororities can provide some compelling benefits, but many of us in higher education are starting to ask if the costs now outweigh the benefits.  The culture of Greek Life has become so strong and ideological that reform efforts often fail and reformers from presidents to vice presidents of student affairs in increasing numbers have lost their jobs for even suggesting the need for reform.  To me, Greek Life has devolved into a subculture at odds with the broader purpose of higher education turning supporters into zealots for their cause.  In today’s post, I want to share the conclusion from my 2011 Journal of Higher Education article, Witch-hunting at Crucible University.  Although about a very different case, I think the conclusion speaks to my concerns regarding the ongoing problems with Greek Life and shows the double-edged sword of organizational culture.

How to Write a Scholarly Introduction

One of the biggest challenges that my students face is how to write a scholarly introduction to their papers and assignments. I’m not entirely sure of the reasons that students struggle with writing introductions, but it is the area that I find myself often providing help. There are many excellence resources on how to write a scholarly introduction and my personal favorite is Wendy Belcher’s Writing Your Journal Article in Twelve Weeks: A Guide to Academic Publishing. In today’s post, I’m going to modify some of Belcher’s advice with my own to provide five easy steps for writing a scholarly introduction.

Photo credit: Norlando Pobre

Fundamentally, the role of an introduction is to provide the necessary information for your reader to understand your argument. This sets up your argument for your reader.

UAB Tackles Football: Right Decision for the Wrong Reasons

This week, UAB became the first NCAA FBS (formerly Division IA) university to drop its football program. Despite becoming bowl eligible for the first time in ten years this season, the university administration decided that football was no longer affordable. In a news release, UAB President Ray Watts said that “football is simply not sustainable.” Predictably, the national media picked up on this theme and a series of stories highlighted the escalating costs associated with big time college athletics.  These articles also questioned the viability of football for schools like UAB. Although a compelling storyline, I argue that there is more than meets the eye in the case of UAB. Clearly, the escalating expenses of college sports and football in particular are problematic. As a result, the move to drop football is likely the right one for UAB, but I believe this right decision was made for the wrong reasons.

Take Time to Enjoy Campus

A college campus is a wonderful place to work.  There are few work environments that could be better.  We have smart and talented colleagues and students.  We have beautiful buildings and grounds to enjoy.  Campuses are a hive of activities.  One of the reasons that I went into higher education is that I wanted to spend my career working on a college campus.  Since I turned 18, my life has revolved around academic calendars, college sporting events, and spring breaks.  Unfortunately, I haven’t always taken advantage of all the opportunities available on campus, but I have pledged to take time to enjoy campus.

Cold, but enjoying riding on the faculty float in the homecoming parade.

One of the reasons that I moved to SMU was to be able to enjoy all that a campus offers.  I used to live an hour away from Tuscaloosa when I was at UA and hardly ever participated in campus life.  I taught my classes, did my work, and went home.