Tufts Panhellenic Council, the organization representing Panhellenic sororities at Tufts, published a statement denouncing the “hyper-masculinity and structural misogyny” of Tufts fraternities, indefinitely suspending organized events between sororities and fraternities and sports teams until a list of demands were met.
The Panhellenic Council’s statement was written largely in response to a Nov. 7 Opinion piece in the Tufts Observer accusing Tufts fraternities of hazing and sexual assault, Rebecca Ennis, vice president of standards and interim social action chair of Alpha Omicron Pi (AOII), said.
“I think in general sororities on this campus have been having conversations about our organizations — how we operate, what we’re standing for … That’s not new,” Ennis, a junior, said. “But the Observer article … that was really our call to action.”
In the letter, the Panhellenic Council apologized for the ways sororities were “complicit” in what they defined as problematic aspects of fraternity culture. Panhellenic Council President Meaghan Annett said that while members were aware of rumors of some fraternity hazing practices, they were not aware of the degree until the Observer article was published.
“To no degree did I or a lot of people realize how horrible and horrific it was,” Annett, a senior, said.
Annett said that the regular monthly meeting of the President’s Roundtable, which consists of the presidents of each Greek chapter, Panhellenic Council, Inter-Greek Council (IGC), Interfraternity Council (IFC) and Multicultural Greek Council (MGC), was originally scheduled for Monday but was postponed in light of the Observer piece. On Nov. 8, Panhellenic Council members met to write the letter, according to Annett.
The statement demanded transparency in fraternities’ new member processes, required attendance of fraternity members at each IGC sexual assault task force meeting and a formal apology, among other demands.
Annett said that the Panhellenic Council presented this statement to the rest of the Greek community at the rescheduled President’s Roundtable meeting on Nov. 9, prior to the letter’s publication on social media. Also in attendance at this meeting were other members of the Greek community and several administrators, including Director of Sorority and Fraternity Life Su McGlone, Senior Associate Dean of Student Affairs Raymond Ou, Health Education Specialist Beth-Anne Farrow, Sexual Misconduct Resource Specialist Nandi Bynoe, Assistant Dean of Student Affairs Chris Rossi and Residence Life Programming Coordinator Liz Jason.
Both Annett and Ennis said that fraternity members at the meeting were generally receptive to the statement.
“The conversations we were able to have were very fruitful,” Ennis said. “Many specific individuals spoke of their own self-reflection and response to the article and what that meant to them personally and what they want to see for their organization and their organization’s leadership.”
Delta Tau Delta president and senior Ian Bollag-Miller said his organization was receptive to the demanded changes.
“We were horrified to learn of the events described [in the] Tufts Observer article. We admire the fortitude of the author to bring these issues to light … We are making every effort as an organization to process this information and the hurt expressed by our Panhellenic sisters [in] their November 9 letter as well as to produce concrete steps that we can take as an organization to address them directly,” Bollag-Miller told the Daily in an electronic message.
Zeta Beta Tau president Matthew Mazzarella also expressed his support of the Panhellenic statement.
“We support the Panhellenic Council in their decision to issue the letter and that their concerns are not only valid, but pertinent. We look forward to working together with the Panhellenic Council, and the Tufts community to introduce reform in our fraternity and in Greek Life,” Mazzarella, a senior, told the Daily in an electronic message.
The Daily attempted to contact representatives from all fraternities. Four were unable to be reached for comment. Alex Spring, president of Pi Delta, Shant Mahrokhian, president of Zeta Psi, and Matthew Masi-Phelps, president of Pi Rho Omega all declined to comment. Spring, who also serves as president of the IFC, declined to comment on behalf of the group.
Annett said that men’s sports teams, which she said applied to both club and varsity teams, were intentionally included in the statement. However, sports team captains were not present at the Nov. 9 President’s Roundtable, according to Annett.
“The environment sports teams create echoes the same presence as fraternities that we are condemning … we’re not going to organize events with sports teams because we do not condone hazing of any kind for any organization,” she said.
Annett said that with no more organized social events with fraternities for at least the rest of the semester, sorority chapters will find other ways to fulfill the social dimension of their respective organizations.
Ennis said that one idea suggested within AOII is having mixers with different sororities and events within the organization itself.
Annett also expressed that sororities as a whole were exploring different activities. “We are going to focus on our own sisterhood and having social events amongst our sisters and getting to know ourselves better and also reevaluating why we are in a sorority,” she said.
Annett noted that sororities would also refrain from holding joint philanthropic events with fraternities.
She said that she ultimately hopes for continued conversation around misogyny and sexual assault in fraternities.
“A general first step is to make sure that we don’t forget this moment. A lot of time what ends up happening is that this will become an issue for just a bit of time and people just forget the hurt that people have felt and that people are feeling,” Annett said. “We’re working on taking the time to reflect on ourselves.”