Boys will be boys, at Yale, UVA, Tufts…

I wrote an article earlier this week about how the Greek community is working to prevent sexual assault through bystander intervention tactics. After writing it, I felt genuinely impressed by the self-awareness and self-criticism displayed by the members of the Inter-Greek Council (IGC) with whom I spoke.

But I am concerned by the idea that Greek life at Tufts is somehow different from Greek Llfe at “big, state schools” or “southern schools,” as the members of the IGC suggested. We tend to think of Greek organizations at larger, less “intellectual” schools as perpetrators of racism, classism and misogyny. But then how does one explain what happened last week at Yale, when a sophomore reported that women of color were denied entry to a party at the school’s chapter of Sigma Alpha Epsilon?

Or when the Alpha Delta fraternity and Tri Delta sorority at Dartmouth College hosted a “Bloods and Crips” party in 2013? Or when a fraternity at the University of Pennsylvania posted a photo last Christmas with a racially charged and misogynistic blow-up doll meant to resemble Beyoncé? Is Tufts really above these acts, perpetrated by colleges and universities that are supposedly as or more elite than ours?

Apparently, we’re not. Tufts’ own Delta Upsilon (DU) is currently suspended right now for playing a song at an event that was considered “a violation of the university’s policy about non-discrimination,” according to Mickey Toogood, the judicial affairs administrator. Toogood told me this information when I interviewed him for my Daily article.

Saying that Greek organizations at elite private schools are not as susceptible to racism, misogyny, homophobia and a host of other issues is sort of like saying these issues don’t exist in the United States outside of the South. While I recognize that not every fraternity (or sorority) is guilty of these problems, I think it’s time Tufts had a serious discussion about the merits of these organizations.

When I interviewed Toogood, he told me that Tufts is considering bringing one or two new fraternities to campus, both of which would not have houses on campus.

It would be a positive shift in the way we think about Greek Life, or at least [an] opportunity to reevaluate the association between having a house and what students get out of a brotherhood or sisterhood,” he said.

This is a positive first step. Especially since Greek Life is growing at Tufts (to the point that a first-year told me this weekend that when she first got to Tufts, she felt like she wouldn’t have a social life if she didn’t rush), it’s crucial that the university look critically at the system. And it’s great that the IGC is educating the Greek community in bystander intervention, but it’s important to recognize what the IGC isn’t doing, such as creating Greek-wide community consequences for rape if and when rape happens, or meaningfully addressing the underlying issue that many students cannot afford to join a Greek organization.

We can claim that Tufts is morally superior to those “other” schools. But let’s be honest: the Greek system is deeply flawed, and DU’s action seems to suggest that Tufts is no exception.


4 Responses

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  1. Flogging Molly
    Nov 12, 2015 - 10:28 PM

    DU is actually currently on probation for violating alcohol policies..

  2. Hopkins_1869
    Nov 13, 2015 - 01:05 AM

    OK, let me get this straight: you think the Greek system at Tufts is “deeply flawed” because DU played an inappropriate song at a party? Really, because of one song? Meanwhile, you compare that action to serious events from other campuses which happened years ago, and yet still think they have relevance? Then, to tie your thesis together, you suggest this all means that Tufts isn’t doing enough to address the very serious issue of rape, or the less serious issue that joining a fraternity or sorority costs money (a lot less money, by the way, then the cost of attending Tufts in the first place…)? A pretty weak and convoluted argument, if you ask me, one that shows a complete lack of understanding of the community, if not a complete bias against.

    Having been a member of the Greek community both at Tufts and a large state school, I can tell you without a doubt the culture of fraternities and sororities at Tufts is much more inclusive and open than the norm, something it has been for a long time, something for which the school can be proud. Sure, things are not perfect in this regard, but I highly doubt you’ll ever see a headline where a Tufts fraternity categorically denies admission to a group of students based on race, or holds a party where guests are encouraged to dress like LA gang members. In fact, fraternities and sororities at Tufts have a long history of being progressive and fighting to change “accepted” behaviors. Did you know that in the late 1950s, two sororities at Tufts (Sigma Kappa and Alpha Xi Delta) and two fraternities (Phi Epsilon Pi and AEPi) were some of the first in the country to accept people of color in their membership? Or that a Tufts fraternity (Phi Epsilon Pi) had both Jewish and Gentile members way back in 1916? Or that another Tufts fraternity (DU) had a Latino brother among its charter members way back in 1886? Or that another Tufts fraternity (Theta Chi) refused to affiliate with its national in the 1950s until all membership restrictions based on race were removed from the organization? Or that another Tufts fraternity (Heth Aleph Res) was one of the first co-ed organizations in the country, when it accepted women as full members back in 1892?

    Finally, 25% of undergraduates are now involved in the Greek community, a larger percentage than those involved in varsity athletics. If it was so horrible, do you think so many would stick around?

  3. Piers Echols-Jones
    Nov 14, 2015 - 03:18 AM

    You seem to be starting with a conclusion (greek life is bad) and attempting to support the conclusion by cherry-picking evidence. You are ignoring all of the positives and focusing on the negatives, which are few and minor.

  4. Sjwjr11
    Nov 17, 2015 - 05:53 PM

    Who even allowed this to be published? Absolutely egregious. It doesn’t bother me as much that you’re factually incorrect in multiple places throughout the article; I’m more bothered the fact that you took the time out of your life to write such an antagonistic and antipathetic piece that lacks any fundamental bases for an argument.

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