An Unfair Comparison

by Jon Sussman | 5/23/01 5:00am

To the Editor:

I take issue with Chris Curran's column ("Faculty Knows Best," 5/21/01) equating fraternities with female a cappella groups and college faculties. Female a cappella groups operate under a very different mission from single-sex Coed Fraternity Sorority houses. In particular, the stated mission of the a cappella group is musical or artistic, while CFS houses declare themselves to be social organizations. College faculties are different from both in that they do not have a social or artistic mission. They are also not entirely self-selecting (although as I understand it, self-selection is sometimes part of the process). I think that the exclusivity of certain musical groups is warranted, while the exclusivity of certain other types of organizations is unwarranted.

Perhaps an unstated objective of the Decibelles is to foster friendship among its members. Their means for selecting members, however, is based on a musical audition. The Decibelles presumably have musical reasons for limiting their membership to female voices. I do not think there is a parallel between the exclusion of women that fraternities use as a constitutive and unarticulated philosophy and the exclusion of men from the Decibelles that is justified by an artistic objective.

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