For those of you getting ready to send Junior off to college, there is an eye-opening essay by Caitlin Flanagan in the most recent issue of The Atlantic. "The Dark Power of Fraternities" discusses the love-hate relationship that colleges and universities have with fraternities (they save the schools millions in student housing costs, but they have limited or no control over the activities there).
Across the country, kids fall—disastrously—from the upper heights of fraternity houses with some regularity. They tumble from the open windows they are trying to urinate out of, slip off roofs, lose their grasp on drainpipes, misjudge the width of fire-escape landings. On February 25, 2012, a student at the University of California at Berkeley attempted to climb down the drainpipe of the Phi Gamma Delta house, fell, and suffered devastating injuries; on April 14 of the same year, a 21-year-old student at Gannon University, in Pennsylvania, died after a fall from the second-floor balcony of the Alpha Phi Delta house the night before; on May 13, a Cornell student was airlifted to a trauma center after falling from the fire escape at Delta Chi; on October 13, a student at James Madison University fell from the roof of the three-story Delta Chi house and was airlifted to the University of Virginia hospital; on December 1, a 19-year-old woman fell eight feet from the Sigma Alpha Mu house at Penn State.What is far more interesting (and important) than the catalogue of problems is the complexities of legal responsibility (or lack of same). Generally, universities are NOT responsible for these incidents. NOR are the fraternities. Often it is the students themselves (or their families back home) who will be held financially responsible for another students death or injury.
If you're sending a kid to college, read the article.