Members of the Greek community this year reported a marked increase in rush participation from previous years, crediting efforts to establish a more accessible and integrated Greek community.
Nine of Tufts’ 10 fraternities accepted more than 10 new members, and some reported pledge classes with close to 20 people.
Inter-Greek Council (IGC) Vice President of Public Relations Eric Swanson, a sophomore, noted there was almost an across-the-board increase in the size of pledge classes. “[We are] really excited about it,” he said.
Sophomore Jacob Schiller, president of the Sigma Phi Epsilon (SigEp) fraternity and IGC vice president of governance, said that the individual fraternities worked hard to distinguish the Greek community’s image at Tufts from what is conventionally presented in the media.
“I think that a lot of people come to college having a [stereotypical] view of Greek life, and the frats did a fantastic job of combating that [this] fall,” he said.
This image campaign, combined with the holistic development of an integrated Greek community, may have contributed to the increase in interest, according to Greek community leaders.
“The individual houses were working really hard on improvement … towards developing the Greek community instead of the separate houses,” Swanson said.
Senior Sam Pollack, president of the Tufts Interfraternity Council (IFC), said that of Tufts’ fraternities, Alpha Epsilon Pi took 22 new brothers, SigEp took 18, Delta Tau Delta took 10, Alpha Tau Omega took 14, Theta Delta Chi took 15, Theta Chi took 13, Zeta Beta Tau took six, Zeta Psi took 17, Delta Upsilon took 20 and Sigma Nu took 12.
Zeta Psi President Byron Crowe, a senior, noted that rush numbers for Zeta Psi were the highest in a decade. He estimated that approximately 40 to 45 students rushed the fraternity.
The IFC’s most recent attempt to create greater inter-Greek unity is an initiative with the Tisch College of Citizenship and Public Service that will involve all of the fraternities on campus in a collaborative effort to raise money for local non-profit organizations.
A contract signed on Sunday by representatives of the Greek community and Tisch College established the partnership.
The document cites the fraternities’ “strong history of philanthropy and membership of strong leaders” as rationales for the partnership and says that the purpose of the project is to “strengthen the capacity of Tufts fraternities to have a positive and constructive impact on campus, in the local area, and in the global community.”
Pollack said that the theme for this semester’s initiative will be Local Community Affairs and Engagement. Each fraternity will choose a charitable organization in the local area on which to focus its fundraising efforts.
According to Tisch College Senior Student Programs Manager Mindy Nierenberg, the partnership will “absolutely continue past this semester” because of its participants’ enthusiasm.
Pollack added that the theme will be reevaluated each semester. He commended the fraternities’ orchestrated effort. “[The initiative is] the first time in recent memory [that all the fraternities] have really collaborated … It’s a pretty original thing,” he said.
The chapters will officially choose their respective organizations later this week, but many have decided to maintain previously existing relationships with non-profits, according to Swanson. He added that SigEp is likely to continue donating to the Somerville Housing Corporation.
Crowe said that Zeta Psi will donate the proceeds from future events to an organization that provides help for Haitians living in the area.
Another recent initiative is the participation of many of the fraternities in Reach Out Campaign sessions, a Health Service program that educates representatives from student groups about health concerns so that they can pass on the information to their peers.
Swanson commended fraternity involvement in the Reach Out Campaign.
“[The campaign is a] good PR activity in terms of showing that the Greek community really does care about health-related issues … and it’s important to [expose] issues to not just the Greeks but the campus as a whole.”
Liaisons have already attended two sessions, the first of which focused on alcohol-related health issues and the second on eating disorders.
Schiller called the project “a great opportunity for the frats and other students to really think and help the whole community to be safe.”