Evaluation of a Leadership Program for Fraternity Men

Article excerpt

Fraternity men have been identified as a unique subgroup of college men with distinct cultural norms, strengths, and weaknesses (Foubert, Garner, & Thaxter, 2006). A large amount of psycho-social-medical and gender studies research has found that fraternity men are a comparatively at-risk subgroup of men and have contributed to an unsafe campus climate (Gidycz, Warkentin, & Orchowski, 2007). Fraternity men report heavy alcohol use and increased sexual activity under the influence of alcohol or drugs, high rates of academic cheating as well as bodily injuries, sexually aggressive attitudes, gang-rape, and sexually transmitted diseases (Boswell & Spade, 1996; Capone, Wood, Borsari, & Laird, 2007; Humphrey & Kahn, 2000; Lewis, Malow, & Ireland, 1997; Mallet, Bachrach, & Turrisi, 2008; Murnen & Kohlman, 2007; Park, Sher, & Krull, 2009; Sanday, 1990; Scott-Sheldon et al., 2008; Storch & Storch, 2002; Trockel et al., 2008). In short, the extant literature indicates that fraternity men engage in behaviors that negatively affect their health and community health.

Interventions aimed at fraternity men have been met with mixed reviews and effectiveness, resulting in calls to continue to develop and evaluate relevant programming (Far & Miller, 2003; Foubert, 2000; Rich, Utley, Janke, & Moldoveanu, 2010). Programs that account for men's gender role socialization and engage men in alternative settings have been identified as particularly needed (Davies, Miller, & Isacco, 2010). Using an objectives-oriented evaluation model, the purpose of this study was to evaluate a leadership development program for fraternity men at a large, public university in the Pacific Northwest. This study sought to determine what objectives were met or not met, and whether the program has value, should be modified, or terminated.


Gender role socialization theory is grounded in the belief that the expressions of masculinities are social constructions (e.g., Martin & Harris, 2006). Research has consistently linked restrictive adherence to traditional masculinity ideology to negative health behaviors (e.g., alexithymia, neglect of health, substance abuse) (Courtenay, 2000; Levant, 2008). Fraternities in the United States have been found to foster a negative ideology of hegemonic masculinity, which places value on the dominance of men and the subordination of women (Yeung, Stombler, & Wharton, 2006). Hegemonic masculinity tends to be embodied in heterosexual, educated, European American men which explains why it has become a cultural norm within fraternities, organizations that tend to have such groups of men (Connell & Messerschmidt, 2005). Interventions would benefit by attending to male gender socialization with fraternity men.

Programs Aimed at College and Fraternity Men

As is evident, much of the research on fraternity men has shown that they demonstrate negative health behaviors, most notably, alcohol abuse and sexual violence (Anderson, 2007; Martin & Harris, 2006; Martin & Hummer, 1989; West, 2001). Campus-based interventions for fraternity men have primarily focused on decreasing those negative behaviors through alcohol reduction programs and sexual violence prevention (Carter & Kahnweiler, 2000; Latimer & Cronce, 2002; Latimer et al., 2001 ; McMahon & Dick, 2011). Such inquiry and interventions are warranted and continue to be important. However, integrating other dimensions of fraternity men have not been adequately explored or capitalized on in programs. Interventions that provide a model of positive behavior for college men are considered lacking (Brooks, 2010; Davis & Laker, 2004; Laker, 2003; Robertson, 2005). College men have been found to be resistant to rape prevention and bystander intervention programs, indicating a need for programs that decrease defensiveness and increase buy-in (Carlson, 2008; Rich, Utley, Janke, & Moldoveanu, 2010). …