Date of Award

Spring 2016

Document Type

Undergraduate Honors Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts in Political Science




Erik D. Fritsvold


This thesis project examines the similarities in structure, initiation processes, af liations, and motivations for joining both criminal street gangs and fraternities. These similarities serve as the foundation for the central idea of the thesis: using California’s street gang legislation, mainly the S.T.E.P. Act, to more severely prosecute fraternities for their crimes. My application of the legislation is supported through both comprehensive gang data, as well as case studies of fraternity crimes, as comprehensive data for this group does not exist. My research has important implications, as recent legislation serves to protect fraternity offenders from facing punishment for their crimes, overall making college campuses more dangerous and allowing this criminal networking to thrive. If these fraternities, which in large part act as criminal street gangs, were to be prosecuted under the S.T.E.P. Act, not only would the offenders receive harsher punishments, but the groups themselves would have to be more selective in their choosing of new members so as to not ruin the reputation or good standing of their fraternal organizations. This thesis project will discuss the results of the application of the S.T.E.P. Act as well as suggest amendments to the legislation in order to make prosecuting fraternities under this act more cohesive.