Students talk with current members of ATO during the fraternity's rush event at the ATO house on Feb. 13. (Rachael Meyer / The Tufts Daily)

Students talk with current members of ATO during the fraternity's rush event at the ATO house on Feb. 13. (Rachael Meyer / The Tufts Daily)

Four Greek life organizations regain ability to recruit new members

Four Greek life organizations on the Tufts campus are eligible to begin new member recruitment processes this semester, according to a Feb. 2 email sent out by several Tufts administrators.

According to Jack Friend, president of Tufts’ Interfraternity Council (IFC), the two fraternities accepting new members this semester are ATO of Massachusetts and the Omicron chapter of Zeta Beta Tau (ZBT). Sororities Alpha Omicron Pi (AOII) Delta and Kappa Alpha Theta are hosting pre-recruitment events, according to public Facebook posts about the events. The presidents of the two sororities could not be reached for comment.

According to Jonah O’Mara Schwartz, vice president external and IFC representative of ZBT, IFC decided to lift its previous ban on new member recruitment for organizations that do not have cease-and-desist orders, following the appointment of a new IFC executive board this semester.

The cease-and-desist orders bar Greek organizations from having social events due to allegations of sexual misconduct, alcohol policy violations and hazing, according to the Feb. 2 email. Because ATO and ZBT have not had cease-and-desist orders filed against them, they have been cleared to recruit new members.

Theta Chi is one of the fraternities on cease-and-desist, according to Theta Chi President Adam Kercheval. Kercheval, a junior, said that the cease-and-desist order has provided an opportunity for Theta Chi brothers to re-evaluate the structure and future of their fraternity.

“We’re taking the opportunity to kind of have a lot of introspective discussion on … how we want the future of Theta Chi to play out,” Kercheval said. “Since we can’t have social events or recruitment events … we’re all going to house meetings discussing the impacts of our house, how we can grow as a house [and] what we need to change.”

Schwartz, a sophomore, said that IFC first declared a hold on all fraternity rush in the fall. According to George Triantafillou, president and treasurer of ZBT, the university affirmed the hold. At that time, the IFC placed a voluntary social hold on all fraternities — also upheld by the university — which was partially in response to a November article in the Tufts Observer proposing the abolition of Greek life, according to Zachary Kramer, ATO’s community outreach officer.

While ZBT and ATO are not on cease-and-desist, they are still on social hold, according to Schwartz and Kramer. Kramer, a sophomore, said this means they are free to host events but are prohibited from hosting events with alcohol.

“As of today, there are no plans for a formal, IFC-run rush week or unified bid day to take place this semester,” Friend, a junior, told the Daily in an email.

Though a formal IFC-run rush process is not in place, IFC has imposed close oversight on rush, according to ATO New Member Chair Aaron Klein.

Once an organization is eligible for rush, according to Friend, that organization must notify IFC of their decision to rush. In addition, new members must have a GPA of at least 2.5 in the School of Arts and Sciences and 2.3 in the School of Engineering to be considered for acceptance into a Greek organization, Friend said.

Klein, a junior, said that ATO’s rush events are centered largely around getting to know the campus community, allowing people to feel comfortable in the ATO house and facilitating a conversation around Greek life.

“We understand that people have real concerns about Greek life, so we’re going to be facilitating that discussion a lot during rush,” Klein said. “That’s the first time people have really had access to the houses since then, so we’d be remiss if we weren’t allowing that to be a focus.”

Kramer, also of ATO, expressed a similar willingness to continue the discussion about Greek life during rush. As part of his role as Community Outreach Chair, he is planning International Movie Nights for most Friday nights. Proceeds from snacks sold at the events will be donated to the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center (BARCC).

“The goal is to have a fun movie [night] and raise money for BARCC but also to have people come into the house and see that we’re not big, bad, scary Greek life,” Kramer said.

Kramer also discussed ATO’s plans to host an “Around the World” event in which a different cultural club occupies each room in the ATO house.

“Everyone was welcome,” Alfredo Gutierrez, a first-year who attended ATO’s first rush event, said. “They told us, ‘Even if you don’t get into ATO, you’re welcome in this house at any time.’”

One ZBT rush event, entitled “Smash Bros and Wings,” is an opportunity for potential new members to eat wings and play video games in the house while getting to know the ZBT brothers, according to Schwartz and Triantafillou. Schwartz said he hoped people who had not previously considered joining Greek life would attend to learn more about the community.

“We’re not going to hide it, we’re kind of the nerdy frat, so that’s our bread and butter right there,” Schwartz said. “We find that event good because it attracts people who didn’t think they were interested in Greek life, and then they meet all the people and they think, ‘Wow, this actually looks like a place where I can be.'”

Schwartz added that ZBT is looking to make changes in its institutional workings this semester by increasing and better-publicizing its philanthropic efforts.

“There’s no financial barrier for being in ZBT. It’s whatever you’re comfortable with, whatever your family can pay and personally afford,” Triantafillou, a sophomore, said.

Friend also emphasized the importance of making Greek life more accessible through scholarships.

“The general goal is to make Greek life as inclusive and inviting as possible,” Friend said. “[IFC] will do everything within our power to take monetary limitations out of the picture by creating a scholarship fund this semester, something which I feel should have been done a long time ago.”

According to Friend, the Student Life Review Committee is making efforts to communicate directly with Greek organizations to make change. Friend noted that, though the three councils that govern most Greek organizations on campus — Panhellenic Council (Panhel), InterGreek Council and IFC — had not previously interacted with the Student Life Review Committee formed by University President Anthony Monaco, the Committee has invited the presidents of each council to participate in a meeting this week.

Meanwhile, according to Panhel President Meaghan Annett, sororities are still deciding on whether to hold recruitment this semester.

“They are informing their decision based on conversations with their advisors, chapter members and potential new members,” she said.

Kramer expressed hope that Greek life can be reformed from within through the rush process. In particular, he said they are looking to evaluate the role that ATO should play on the Tufts campus.

“I hope that we can … start making progress with getting rid of the inherent oppression, sexism and racism in the Greek life system,” Kramer said. “I hope we can make ATO more inclusive and open to the community and then set an example for the rest of Greek life.”

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