Op-Ed: A letter from the Panhellenic Council

We, the members of the Panhellenic Council, want to acknowledge the current state of toxic hyper-masculinity in our country and in particular within Greek life at our university. We are horrified by the results of the election. We are hurt and afraid. Donald Trump’s presence is a direct result of the misogyny in our country. These misogynistic attitudes exist within our own Greek life system. We are thankful that Ben Kesslen courageously brought this to light in his Nov. 7 Observer article.

We believe that the dignity of every human being should be respected. Brotherhood should never take priority over humanhood. We condemn both the sexual assault and the sexual harassment reported by Kesslen. We are disgusted and horrified that this is happening within the organizations with which we work. We understand that while this article is an account of one person’s experience, what happened is not an isolated incident and speaks volumes to the current state of fraternities.

We want to make it clear that the type of behavior described in the article does not happen in Tufts sororities. However, we want to acknowledge that unfortunately we are complicit in perpetuating the hyper-masculinity and structural misogyny of fraternities through our social interactions with them. We are also aware that we are complicit in the classist, racist and heteronormative structures perpetuated by Greek life. We acknowledge that sororities uphold harmful systems that marginalize and ostracize many identities. Prior to publishing this article, we took small steps to bring about organic change within our community. It is now clear that we need radical change.

To the greater Tufts community, we apologize for the ways in which we have thus far been complicit.

We are figuring out how we can have the most impact. As members of Panhel, we want to use our position within the Greek system as an opportunity to change the culture and rhetoric to reflect our values as students at Tufts, as women and as people.

We want to take this time to speak directly to fraternity members:

You betrayed us. You lied to us. We have been in your houses and trusted that we had our safety. Our sense of artificial safety has been shattered.

We should not bear the burden of educating you on why your misogynistic comments, your “locker room talk” and your hazing practices hurt us. Yet time and again, we find ourselves doing just that.

Your behavior is inexcusable. These acts, under the guise of brotherhood, reinforce discriminatory power dynamics that perpetuate sexual assault of women and marginalized identities. You are hurting our classmates, our friends, our sisters. You are hurting us.

Until we are ready and until we feel safe, we are suspending organized events with fraternities and sports teams. The environment of sports teams echoes the misogynistic culture of hazing and pledging present in fraternities. We do not condone hazing from any organization.

We will not consider changing our stance on organized events with your fraternities until changes are made. At the bare minimum we demand you meet our standards:

  • We demand accountability and an apology. We demand your fraternity recognizes how they have hurt/are hurting people.
  • We demand you take personal responsibility. Stop saying “we’re not like those guys.” Stop being defensive. Acknowledge your faults. Acknowledge that individuals are tied to a larger system, regardless of whether or not they are “good guys.”
  • We demand that a member of your fraternity attend every Inter-Greek Council Sexual Assault Task Force meeting. We demand enforcement of this attendance.
  • We demand a language change in the use of buzzwords that reflect power imbalances. Stop referring to those recently extended a bid as “pledges” — they are new members. Stop referring to the period between extension of a bid and initiation as “pledging” — it is new member period. Stop referring to a party as a “screw.”
  • We demand a transparent new member process.
  • We demand that fraternities have a Diversity Inclusion Chair who will receive training from the university.
  • We demand you work to deconstruct toxic masculinity and publish a list of steps you will take.
  • We demand you actively hold and engage in consistent, mandatory programming that challenges hetero-patriarchal structures and ideologies. It is not enough to justify your own toxic masculinity as being symptomatic of our society.
  • We expect you to uphold your mission to form a society committed to becoming and cultivating better men, or rather, better humans.

We need time and space to reflect on how we can improve our organizations and strengthen our support of female identifying and femme people in Greek life and beyond. We need to re-evaluate what institutions we are upholding and where we place our bodies. You should take this time to re-evaluate your brotherhood. If your fraternity is not here to challenge systemic structures of sexism, racism, classism and heteronormativity, then your fraternity should not be here at all.

Editor’s note: If you would like to send your response or make an op-ed contribution to the Opinion section, please email us at tuftsdailyoped@gmail.com. The Opinion section looks forward to hearing from you.


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