Disclaimer: Luke Murphy is a current columnist at the Tufts Daily. He was not involved in the writing or editing of this story.
Recruitment also operated under new policies this fall: only sophomores were permitted to rush and all students interested in joining a fraternity or sorority were required to attend a recruitment orientation program, according to the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life (OFSL) website.
Two fraternities that recruited new members in March — ATO of Massachusetts (ATO) and Zeta Beta Tau (ZBT) — were also able to recruit, according to Luke Murphy, the president of Tufts’ Interfraternity Council (IFC). Additionally, Kappa Alpha Theta and Alpha Omicron Pi (AOII), who also held spring recruitment in 2016, were able to participate this fall, according to the Tufts Panhellenic Council’s Facebook page.
“We found out that we could recruit … a week before recruitment was about to happen,” Chi Omega President Hannah Macaulay said, referring to the conclusion of the investigation into her sorority. “We wanted to make sure that we were so committed to everything that we’ve been doing as a chapter for the last nine months, especially all the findings of our report.”
Last year, following a November 2016 Tufts Observer article, recruitment and social events for most fraternities and sororities were temporarily put on hold, as the majority of Greek organizations were investigated by the university for misconduct. After the organizations not on cease and desist began recruiting last spring, a number of students protested the presence of Greek life and its resurfacing on campus, arguing that Greek life institutions are exclusive.
During recruitment this semester, sororities were held to the Release Figure Method (RFM) quota, a National Panhellenic Council standard that ensures that pledge classes from all sororities are of equal size, Macaulay said. The RFM quota and the guaranteed bid system limited the number of bids each sorority could extend.
According to Macaulay and Rachel Perry, the president of Alpha Phi, though their organizations both met the quota, the quota was not met across all sororities. Macaulay says she regrets not being able to admit more new members but said she was excited about the new class admitted to Chi Omega.
“We feel really fortunate about the people we were able to welcome into our spaces. I love every single one of them. I think they’re amazing and incredible people and women,” Macaulay said.
Sorority recruitment was different from fraternity recruitment in that those interested in joining a fraternity could choose which organizations’ events they want to attend, whereas sorority recruitment requires everyone rushing to visit each organization, according to Murphy. Murphy, a senior, said that this makes the process “more individualistic.”
Murphy said the total turnout at fraternities this semester was approximately 160 students — more students than could typically be expected at a fall rush, but fewer than in a traditional spring rush.
He explained that because first-years interested in joining last year faced a more limited selection of fraternities to join last spring, many of them, now sophomores, were still interested in the recruitment process.
Murphy noted that those interested in joining Greek life seemed more intentional and focused on looking into the deeper implications of joining an organization than in previous years. Perry, a junior, shared this sentiment.
“I talked to a number of them, and a lot of them were conflicted after what happened last year and definitely have to give it some thought,” she said. “Because there’s so much going on, it’s easy to just decide not to join Greek life and avoid the whole controversy.”
Macaulay argued that students who would not normally have considered being a part of Greek life chose to rush because they heard about conversations of reform happening within Greek organizations.
Murphy said that IFC has worked closely with the OFSL with the goal of eliminating hazing from the process of joining a Greek organization. Additionally, he said the IFC has increased communication with Su McGlone, director of the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life, and new members. McGlone did not comment by press time.
Other fraternity leaders have also worked to reform the rush process. For example, DTD Recruitment Chair Ian Clarke said he was involved in creating programming that allows people to make informed decisions as members of Greek life. Clarke, a senior, said that during rush, DTD brothers made themselves available for questions regarding identity and financial aid.
Jack Bitney, recruitment chair of ATO, explained that in reaching out to potential new members, his organization made an effort to draw from a diverse range of groups on campus.
“I did a lot of work trying to make sure that as many groups on campus [as possible] knew about our rush,” Bitney, a junior, said.
Sophia Potter, a sophomore who joined Kappa Alpha Theta, said she felt the recruitment process emphasized inclusion.
“The sororities seemed more mindful about the topic of inclusivity, and it came [up] often during conversations,” Potter said.
Eman Naseer, a sophomore, attended both sorority recruitment and ATO rush events and eventually joined ATO.
“I think in terms of exclusivity the dues for both [ATO and sororities] were a big problem and I personally got the vibe that they were trying to reform that,” Naseer said.
Clarke said that it is with a reflective mindset the Greek organizations return to campus life.
“Obviously, we’ve learned a lot about Greek life. The chapters have dealt with a lot of things over the past year and come to terms with a lot of things that were wrong with Greek life,” Clarke said. “We can think about ways to recreate a healthy, vibrant Greek community at Tufts.”