More than a year following the release of the findings of a months-long investigation into Greek life on campus and the subsequent reforms to build a more inclusive Greek community, members of Tufts fraternities and sororities have mixed opinions on the effectiveness of the new rules.
Nikolas Camp, president of Delta Tau Delta (DTD), criticized university policy that does not allow students to participate in recruitment during their first year at Tufts.
“The most harmful thing that has happened to us has been [first-years] can’t rush,” Camp, a junior, said. “It just literally reduces our numbers, and it also reduces our connection to the campus as a whole.”
Camp said that the policy against first-years rushing excludes them from social life at Tufts.
“Those [new rules] both limit the community interacting with these groups that are already known to be distant,” he said. “There are underclassmen that have things to add and just literally cannot because the school doesn’t want them to.”
Despite these setbacks, Camp recognized the positive impacts of the changes. He said that DTD has been taking steps to create a safer environment, including going through trainings to better recognize risky situations, holding workshops to police parties more effectively and holding discussions about topics like sexual assault and masculinity.
“We really want to emphasize [that DTD is] a place where you learn positive masculinity,” he said. “If you have a fraternal organization, it’s by definition males, and there’s inherent risk that comes with that, especially as a lot of people coming from high school really haven’t learned to reign in these behaviors that haven’t been checked before.”
Sorority Kappa Alpha Theta (Theta) has experienced some difficulties balancing some of the new rules with their national chapter standards, according to Chief Recruiting Officer Ainsley Ball.
“The structure that we have for recruitment is pretty nationally set, and there’s only so much we can do to change it specifically to Theta [at Tufts],” Ball, a sophomore, said.
However, Ball ultimately sees the reforms as a positive transition. She said that Theta has been reevaluating the conversations it has with potential new members.
“What are questions that target certain identities and how can we avoid them? What are questions that can make the [potential new member] feel comfortable but also give them the space to talk about what they feel is important to bring up?” she said. “It’s a balance, but as time goes on we are are working on how to refine that.”
Ball also cited changes to recruitment, like the new values-based recruitment and elimination of a dress code, as having a beneficial impact. Additionally, she said that new scholarship opportunities through both Theta and the Panhellenic Council as well as the creation of Diversity and Inclusion chairs have helped construct a more accepting and welcoming environment.
“[The Diversity and Inclusion chairs] partake in recruitment so we have a workshop where we go over the details and they will spend time talking about different sensitivity topics,” she said. “It’s nice having them to balance out [so] there’s more voices on that topic.”
Alpha Phi’s Vice President of Recruitment Zoe Reid has embraced many of the reforms, especially the later rush requirement which promotes more connections outside of a person’s specific sorority.
“Personally, I think it makes a huge difference just because as a [first-year] in the spring it would be so overwhelming [to rush],” Reid, a sophomore, said. “I think that’s the biggest change. Friend groups don’t form around who rushes.”
Reid also said that she noticed that the sororities promote a more inclusive environment.
“All three sororities I think steer away from there being a type of person or having a set stereotype,” she said. “I think the past couple of years have tried to push away from that. I think before all the changes were made it was kind of more traditional.”
The future of Greek life on campus is still up in the air as both students and the administration are unsure if more reform will be taking place.
“We’re spending some time this semester gathering ideas and information from the entire community to help shape a comprehensive strategic plan moving forward,” Director of Fraternity and Sorority Affairs Su McGlone said in an email. “There might be additional updates if the councils decide to implement them.”
Although Greek life saw a decline in participation in the 2016–17 academic year, numbers have been increasing since then, according to McGlone.
Ball echoed this remark. She said that Theta’s membership doubled with the joining of her pledge class and the sorority now has more than 100 members.
Reid highlighted the important social space that Greek life fills and advocated for its continued existence.
“I think there’s a lot of people that really value it once you are in the communities of Greek life, especially if you are not on a team for a school that’s in NESCAC and so small. It gives you more of a community,” she said. “So I definitely think it’s a positive contribution in that sense and I think it would be a real loss that all those people were to lose that community.”