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Frats are, whether you like it or not, a part of any college’s history. Just ask Berkeley anthropologist Laurie Wilkie, who wrote an entire book about the Zeta Psis, a Berkeley fraternity since 1870.

Wilkie wrote the book largely focusing on questions of masculinity in the early 20th century (specifically the 1920′s). And before your imagination runs wild, we’ll say that these frat boys aren’t exactly the ones you see yelling boisterously on street corners. These are men who “occasionally cross-dressed, drank beer from steins and pilsner glasses, and, ultimately, went on to prestigious, high-powered careers.”

OK, that sounds pretty similar, actually. But let’s move on to the business side of things, because these Zetes were pretty influential. According to the article Zetes have served on the UC Board of Regents regularly since 1870 and many have gone on to prestigious careers — one was even governor of California.

The frat was a time to have fun, sure, but it also was “where a young man separated himself from his mother’s household and learned how to be elegant,” according to Wilkie.

Oh, the jokes are too numerous to mention. Suffice it to say that we presume that elegance isn’t the first order of business in current frat houses. Still, one photo of the historic Zeta Psis shows two guys hanging out on a bed near an animal pelt and a poster of a naked girl. And in spite of the wild times, most Zetes went into “banking, corporate jobs, and finance.”

The more things change, huh?

Image source: kerryvaughan under Creative Commons
Masculinity at the intersection of College Avenue and Never Land [UC Berkeley News]



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