Phi Beta Cons

The Rise and Demise of Fraternity Culture

Let me start with a statement of fact: Frats have a reputation. Today, it’s almost a universally poor one, and culturally, we identify their stately houses more with Animal House than as symbols of high culture. Even the language we use to speak about them has changed, with their membership morphing from gentlemanly “fraternity men” to rowdy “frat boys.”

And within a culture of progressivism that necessarily views every change as part of a broader societal “advancement,” the decline and degradation of fraternity culture provides just one of the obvious rebuttals to the idea that the arc of mankind naturally bends toward betterment.

So what made fraternities — and greek life more broadly — so tremendously important and successful from the mid-to-late 19th century up until the onset of the Animal House culture of the 1970s and beyond?

In the latest episode of, host Andy Nash speaks with Ben Novak, a fraternity man, veteran-soldier, attorney, and trustee, on the history — the “glory days” — of the fraternity system.

Watch the full episode on, or check out the show notes and take-aways.

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