Yesterday, the Tufts administration finally released a substantial update on the status of Greek life on campus. Following a series of controversies in the fall of 2016 and 10 months of investigations and sanctions, the changes mentioned will, if carried out, represent a major turning point in the relationship between Greek life and the university.
For many, the focus of this announcement will be the changes to how sororities and fraternities on campus operate. For example, Tufts joined the Hazing Prevention Consortium, in efforts to clamp down on hazing among Greek organizations. Another major change announced is that only students in their second year or above will be allowed to rush, contrary to the previous policy allowing first-years in their spring semester to join fraternities and sororities.
In addition to these new policies, a particularly important change is the administration’s efforts to become more transparent with the student body, at least on the issue of Greek life.
Since the suspension of most Greek life activity on campus, the administration had failed to meet the student body’s expectations of transparency. Students were largely unaware of the status of the investigations and Greek life itself, except for the few members of organizations involved in negotiations and investigations. The administration has finally seemed to realize and attempted to correct its previous lack of transparency.
The announcement itself is a demonstration of the school’s desire to be more straightforward with students and faculty. While announcements regarding this issue were released in early November, December and February, those were much less detailed than the most recent one. Furthermore, after February the administration stopped issuing announcements about the status of fraternities and sororities, allowing the majority of the spring semester to go by without students receiving any updates on the situation regarding Greek life.
The announcement made on Wednesday, however, emphasizes that more information will come in the following weeks with the release of the Student Life Review Committee report, which was promised by University President Anthony Monaco at the “beginning of the coming academic year.” If the school follows up on its promise to release this report shortly, then the ambiguity of last spring will be avoided.
Additionally, the message from the administration reported the creation of the Organization Status page on the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life website. This website offers constant updates on the status of each Greek life organization on campus, including whether or not groups are allowed to recruit new members. It also offers a glossary on the terms used for the status of each organization.
This website is a positive step because it allows students to access the information by themselves, without having to wait for the administration to release an announcement. Moreover, the website prioritizes student access to information over the privacy of Greek organizations by showing the names of each sorority and fraternity, a move away from their emphasis on privacy in previous announcements.
It seems that the administration has finally taken a step in the right direction by striving to be more sincere and transparent. There is no doubt that the issue of Greek life will continue to be polarizing, and while many may be either opposed to or in favor of the changes in Greek life’s operations, this movement away from vagueness and ambiguity should be warmly welcomed by all.
It is our duty, as students of Tufts, to ensure that this is not just a single moment in transparency. It must be clear that obscurity is not acceptable and that we view sunlight as the best disinfectant.