The Inter-Greek Council (IGC) is working with the LGBT Center, the Chief Diversity Officer and the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life to create a Greek Life Anti-Racism task force, according to Christin Mujica, IGC vice president of community engagement.
Each Greek organization at Tufts is required to send two representatives to participate on the task force in order to be eligible for spring 2016 recruitment, according to an email that Mujica sent to Tufts Greek organizations.
Mujica, a senior and member of Latinas Promoviendo Comunidad/Lambda Pi Chi Sorority, Inc., has met with LGBT Center Director Nino Testa, Chief Diversity Officer Mark Brimhall-Vargas and Director of Fraternity and Sorority Life Su McGlone, who are all working on taking the first steps to form the task force, she said.
Mujica said that she came up with the idea for an anti-racism task force during a retreat for leaders of Greek life, when she and other organization representatives were discussing reports of Tufts students of color not feeling comfortable in Greek organizations.
“I’ve known … friends that are POC [people of color] that are still in these organizations or were and they have felt like their needs haven’t been met or … they’ve experienced microaggressions in the organizations, so we’re seeing a lot of turnover in terms of all these people dropping out of these organizations whether it’s [due to] microaggressions or racist comments through the pledge process,” Mujica said.
According to Mujica, one of the causes of racism in Greek organizations could be a lack of understanding or lack of meaningful interactions between people of different backgrounds.
Mujica said she believes people are generally more comfortable talking about issues of gender inclusivity rather than issues of race, which is why it is important that people in positions of authority initiate conversations about race.
Testa agreed that it is important to have such conversations.
“If, as groups of people, we can’t come together to talk about who has access to our space, what it feels like for people of different identities and experiences to be in our spaces, who the “our” is in our spaces … then you can’t really even get to how we can improve campus climate or campus culture,” Testa said.
Brimhall-Vargas said that more training could help to increase diversity in Greek organizations.
In the past, only organization leaders have attended social justice leadership initiative trainings, and as a result, this information does not get disseminated to other members of the fraternities and sororities, according to Brimhall-Vargas.
“This notion of diversity, equity and access to the Greek system came up as a concern for the entirety of the Greek community here, and so one of the things we need more of is training, information, skills and the ability to effectively interact across difference because if we’re going to attract diverse people into our Greek system, we have to be prepared to receive them as well,” Brimhall-Vargas said.
Brimhall-Vargas said the task force will also try to get a more accurate picture of the Greek life diversity experience with an anonymous survey in which members of Greek organizations answer questions about whether or not they feel their organization provides a safe space for minorities.
“[The survey] is designed really to help them have a conversation about identity, about who are we, can we disagree, what about some members of our community who may be seeing or experiencing things that the rest of us don’t notice?” Brimhall-Vargas said.
While Mujica said there is no date set for implementation of the task force, Brimhall-Vargas said he thinks Tufts students are prepared to be more welcoming of students of various backgrounds.
“I think that students at Tufts are smart, and they know what the future looks like. And the future looks like a multiracial experience,” Brimhall-Vargas said. “And I think that when everyone has more informal, authentic and positive interactions across race, everybody wins.”