Former Director of Fraternity and Sorority Affairs Todd Sullivan may be missed on campus, but the Greek system has learned from his tenure. This semester’s low recruitment numbers aside, fraternities and sororities at Tufts have avoided the destructive scandals that marked the past few years.
The end of the 2006 school year saw a report issued by the private company T. Jelke Solutions, which framed the problems of the Greek system in stringent terms and asserted that “a majority of the members of these [Greek] groups are neither aware of nor in tune with the core values of their organizations. For some, alcohol and partying have replaced those values.” The report came after a tumultuous two years, during which Delta Tau Delta was shut down for a full year, Chi Omega was suspended for a year, and a Delta Upsilon brother was arrested for drug trafficking.
The brothers and sisters of Tufts Greek system have gotten the message.
Furthermore, they’ve discovered a blessing in disguise without the help of Sullivan. Despite some organizational mishaps – when no one had assumed Sullivan’s old role of registering for the Greek leadership retreat, members found themselves scrambling, for example – Sullivan’s absence has brought about some benefits, such as a more direct line of communication to the administration.
With faculty directly speaking to students, Greek members have become more cognizant of support coming from the administration. According to Jessica Snow, Public Relations Chairwoman of the Inter-Greek Council (IGC) and member of the AOII sorority, some confusion and misunderstanding of the administration’s role have been eliminated.
This support has been made clear in the process to find a replacement for Sullivan. Although a hire could have been made over the summer, the administration deliberately waited in order to take student opinion into account.
All this is not to say that the woes of fraternities and sororities at Tufts have ended. The low numbers of new brothers and sisters initiated in the spring pledge class demonstrate that interest in the Greek system might be waning. This is not surprising, given the recent damaging events which characterized the past few years. But if members maintain the positive work they’re doing – from helping out with large events such as Read by the River and Relay for Life to continuing community involvement such as volunteering at nursing homes and Big Brother programs – opinions on campus will likely turn around in favor of going Greek.
It is harder to rebuild a reputation than it is to destroy one, and this is one of the bigger challenges facing Tufts fraternities and sororities who must redefine their roles on campus. News travels fast when a pledge is hospitalized or when a drug bust shakes up a fraternity, but students do not pay so much attention to much of the philanthropy work done throughout the year. For non-Greek students on campus, the primary benefit of fraternities is a social one. It is no secret that one aim of the Greek system is to promote a livelier social scene at Tufts. When a house is on social probation, however, its presence on campus is effectively crippled.
Tufts has invested in its fraternities and sororities, which have a 150-year history on the Hill. The response from students and faculty to the rampant alcohol abuse of years past shows a commitment to continuing the Greek tradition, even as other NESCAC schools have ended theirs.
Jumbos value the presence of frats and sororities on campus. Those involved in the system should be commended for the commitment they have shown to improving the standing of their houses.