Government Gave Brown University $5 Million to Discover that Frat Boys Drink More than Peers

One hundred dollar notes are seen in this photo illustration at a bank in Seoul January 9, 2013. REUTERS/Lee Jae-Won

Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ) revealed that the government gave Brown University $5 million to conduct research on whether or not fraternity brothers drink more than their peers who don’t participate in Greek life.

It’s unclear from Flake’s report why the National Institute of Health granted Brown University such a significant amount of funding to study to the behaviors of students in fraternities. According the report, the $5 million was used for to determine if frat boys drink, smoke, and party more than their peers.

Studies on the habits of college students funded with $5 million of NIH grants found fraternity brothers drink, smoke and generally party more than other students. They also sleep in later, which led the researchers to speculate “one explanation for this finding is that Greeks students recognize their sleep needs.” Perhaps a more likely reason is that they are sleeping off their party lifestyle.

Flake concludes that substance abuse amongst college students is a serious problem, but that the research conducted with state funding didn’t provide any information about fraternity life that wasn’t already common knowledge.

Substance abuse is a very serious problem, especially among college students involved in Greek life, that deserves thoughtful attention. The studies highlighted here are not finding solutions to drinking-related problems, but simply retelling what is already widely known about Greek life. As they say at the frat house, “cool story, bro.”

The report on the Brown study was a part of Flake’s annual report that chronicle 50 cases of government fraud, abuse, and waste. Other instances of waste included nearly $2 million of government funds that was designated for the development of a comedy club that would feature holographic performers.