The Gist

The Frat Doesn’t Have Your Back

Fraternities protect themselves, but not their members.

Students and mourners stand outside of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon near San Diego State University after news that a student had died at Phi Kappa Theta in 2012 in San Diego.

Sandy Huffaker/Getty Images

Listen to Episode 831 of Slate’s The Gist:

Subscribe in iTunes RSS feedDownloadPlay in another tab
Slate Plus
members: Get your ad-free podcast feed.


Sigma Alpha Epsilon was already the country’s deadliest fraternity when it became famous in 2015 for its racist chants. But Bloomberg News senior editor John Hechinger says SAE’s response to its scandal was unusual, as leaders used his reporting to try to reform members. Even so, the rising costs of insuring national fraternities might cause local chapters to shut down before reforms can take root. “The leaders of SAE know they are a legal judgment away from oblivion,” writes Hechinger. His book is True Gentlemen: The Broken Pledge of America’s Fraternities.

In the Spiel, Trump’s speech at the United Nations.

Join Slate Plus! Members get bonus segments, exclusive member-only podcasts, and more. Sign up for a free trial today at

Join the discussion of this episode on Facebook.

Twitter: @slategist