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 firstname.lastname@example.org. The Opinion section looks forward to hearing from you.
To the Tufts Community,
The members of ATO of Massachusetts convened on Wednesday to discuss the recent articles regarding Greek life at Tufts. As a group, we are saying sorry. We’re sorry to our friends, our classmates and the entire Tufts community. We have let you down. We cannot defend the heinous acts described in the Nov. 7 Observer article, yet we are directly affiliated with the organizations across the country that have perpetrated them. This is not just an isolated incident. ATO is part of a larger group, one that has broken your trust, and we apologize. As the only gender-all-inclusive Greek organization on campus, we’ve struggled with this news from every angle. As such, we find ourselves in a unique position to lead and shape the changes that are coming. We promise to lead by example and work tirelessly to heal open wounds. Here are some words from one of our own:
“As a female member of a fraternity, I stand with you. Thank you for exposing what many experience but few acknowledge publicly. Everyone should feel safe in a fraternity, and they shouldn’t be ‘permitted to enter’ based on who they know or what they look like. This is not brotherhood. Community should be built on equality, respect and integrity. ATO is not without faults, and I, like you, strive to better the Greek community for an organization to which I have much gratitude. This is a community of friends, allies and survivors that demands change.”
Our improvements to combat sexual assault:
We will call for expansion in RMAT (Risk Management Assistance Team) training and will ask that every fraternity and sorority member be adequately trained. The techniques and tips learned help us become more active bystanders whether or not we are on duty.
Currently, our vice president has taken on the role of risk manager. We will incorporate a risk management position on the executive board, separate from the vice president.
Additionally, there are other resources that we will utilize. We are currently working with the Green Dot program to better educate ourselves on combatting sexual assault, and we will get our entire chapter Green Dot approved. We will offer ourselves as additional party monitors to every fraternity until the level of training across the Greek system matches this standard.
We will improve all aspects of our party monitoring, and we promise to have at least one woman at our door at every party.
To combat hazing:
We do not and will not partake in the traditional pledging process that has stigmatized fraternities for so long. We disaffiliated in 1974 to include all genders and backgrounds and to withdraw from the negative customs associated with fraternity life. We will continue to avoid ritualistic practices and hazing.
We will stop referring to new members as “pledges,” will refer to their inclusion as the “new member period” and will change the term “Pledge Master” to “New Member Chair.” Our new member program will continue to focus on bonding, within the new member class and with the entire membership, through positive experiences.
To combat exclusivity:
While we take pride in making our home all-inclusive, we will continue to make improvements.
As the only gender-all- inclusive fraternity on campus, we will be cognizant of the rhetoric that we use to describe ourselves, so as not to alienate any identity.
We are creating a new executive board position, Diversity Inclusion Chair. We recognize that we, and other Greek organizations, lack diversity, so the Diversity Inclusion Chair will be trained by the university and lead a task force geared toward making ATO a welcoming place for a variety of identities.
We will expand sober events with open movie and game nights as opportunities for us to connect with the community.
We are starting a campaign, #TalkToUs, where we will set up tables in the campus center and in other public areas for you, the community, to express feelings you have about ATO or Greek life in general.
In the coming weeks, we would like to host a public discussion on these issues. We believe that this conversation is crucial to the betterment of Tufts, and should therefore be open to everyone on campus.
To bring comments and criticism to a more personal level, we have created an email account, ATOcampusconversation@gmail.com, that anyone in the community is able to contact in order to find time to meet with a member to discuss concerns, questions and our plans for self improvement.
If we want to be successful in creating safer spaces, we cannot limit reforms to in-house discussions. These are issues regarding the entire Tufts community. We expect the Inter-Greek Council to improve training programs for sexual assault, including a more in-depth RMAT training and higher expectations. We also encourage other organizations to host sober events and to have open arms to people of all identities. We expect the Interfraternity Council, and the entire Tufts community, to work with us on a public discussion. Lastly, we will not work with any group or organization that promotes violence and continues hazing. The conversation cannot end with this letter, and all of Greek life must work together to eliminate the problems within our community. No more separating ourselves from the issues. Stop pretending it isn’t happening. Greek life needs to change, and we are going to change it.