Hechinger succinctly analyzes the troubling co-dependence of colleges and fraternal organizations ... Hechinger has written a damning indictment of the institutions that profoundly damage the lives of young men and women across the country. Yet implicit in True Gentlemen is the assumption that at one time, fraternities were better. Hechinger almost seems to believe the late-middle aged alums who, when confronted with evidence of brutal behavior at frat chapters, protest, 'But that’s not what we were about.' The more likely explanation for such reactions is not that Greek life enjoyed some more virtuous past, but that rape culture, sadism, and institutional racism have been part of our national life so long they were largely invisible to previous generations. By further exposing these profound problems, Hechinger has made a far more valuable to contribution to American college life than any fraternity ever could.
Most of his book, to be sure, is a prosecutor’s case against the transgressions of fraternities — drunkenness, exclusion, sexual assault, sexism, racism, anti-Semitism, mindless stupidity. But before he closes he produces something of a reform manifesto: Heal thyselves. Recruit adult alums to help. Make fraternities a lifelong commitment and commit them to performing good works. In short: Grow up ... Hechinger’s book will be vilified by fraternity supporters, but it deserves serious consideration, for while fraternities are at base undemocratic institutions their defense is based on democratic values. The collision between the two raises important questions. Maybe they should be the topic for the next fraternity meeting. It’s a powder keg for the keg set.
Hechinger has delivered a deeply researched account that traces SAE from its roots to today — and offers a kind of book of revelation ... Hechinger’s instincts are right on when he writes that 'few American institutions face as wide a chasm between high-minded ideals and on-the-ground reality as the college fraternity' ... The most consequential aspect of Hechinger’s investigation of SAE concerns its struggle to address race within its membership. It also presents one of the book’s rare weaknesses. Hechinger admirably holds SAE accountable for its dismal record in recruiting minorities. But it is solely within that narrow scope that he examines the issue of race at all ... In the aftermath of the Rolling Stone debacle, journalist Sabrina Rubin Erdely said in court testimony that she had regrets about her reporting. She had spent five months on the story but did not vet her sources well enough, and she admitted that her endeavor into fraternity misdeeds went awry. In the meantime, thankfully, Hechinger wrote the new testament.