Op-Ed: Greek life: A year in review

The 2017–2018 academic year saw Greek life at Tufts make strong progress through ups and downs as it continued to push forward on its mission of being a more productive part of our community. Greek organizations worked hard throughout the year, undergoing hours of training, reforms to new member processes and social events, and, in the cases of ATO and Pi Rho Omega, comprehensive Green Dot Certification. There is still much to do, but important progress was made.

At the end of the prior academic year, most Greek organizations were given administrative resolutions by the Office of the Dean of Student Affairs, designed to make Greek life a healthier component of our communityMany of these included trainings on sexual assault prevention, bystander intervention, alcohol and other drugs, social justice and hazing preventionThis year, Greek leadership from across organizations worked more closely than in years past, via frequent presidents’ roundtables, a two-day retreat in the fall and a visioning retreat in the spring. Throughout the year, the Inter-Greek Council (IGC), Inter-Fraternity Council (IFC) and Panhellenic Council put on numerous events and accomplished much.

The IGC created the Sexual Assault Prevention Task Force, which worked closely with Alexandra Donovan, a sexual misconduct prevention specialist and the director of Tufts Center for Awareness, Resources and Education (CARE). The IGC’s Diversity and Inclusion Task Force hosted a presentation by an alumnus on the history of Greek life at Tufts followed by a panel about the current state of Greek life and efforts to increase diversity, inclusion and accessibilityWorking with the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life (OFSL), IGC finalized a mission statement for Tufts Greek life that has been posted to the OFSL website.

This spring, the Panhellenic Council (Panhel) successfully raised funds for scholarships to be given out next fall to break down financial barriers to sorority membership and created a new formal recruitment system for the coming semester that will move recruitment events out of chapter houses, include implicit bias training for all current members and introduced budget caps for recruitment spending. The Sorority Women for an Inclusive and Intentional Space group met weekly to discuss creating more inclusive spaces in their sororities for those of marginalized identities. The council also hosted Quinn Conyers, who led a talk about how women can leverage the college experience and overcome challenges they may face as leaders. Together with Counseling and Mental Health Services, Panhel also organized a trip of students to a walk in support of the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center (BARCC), which provides free resources to survivors of sexual assault.

The IFC hosted Duane de Four, an educator and activist who led a talk focusing on college fraternities and promotion of positive masculinity. It also expanded the Risk Management Assistance Team (RMAT), in which other Greek chapters send sober monitors to each other’s parties to assist with party safety and bystander interventionA key part of this expansion was the training of all fraternity new members and sororities in the spring semester in conjunction with the OFSL and Tufts University Police Department (TUPD). The council created new internal systems of accountability to hold chapters more responsible for their roles in keeping our social events safe. IFC has also been working to publicize its values and members to the Tufts community by expanding its social media presence.

An unfortunate setback this year was the Office of the Dean of Student Affairs’ decision to prohibit students from joining Greek organizations in the spring of their first year. Against the advice and evidence presented by the Greek community, Dean Mary Pat McMahon failed to make this decision by self-imposed deadlines or disclose it to the Tufts community and first-year class, so the IFC hosted two informational sessions for students, one aimed at those eligible for recruitment and one designed for first-years who were no longer allowed to rush. While this decision creates an obstacle to our goal of increased accessibility and inclusivity, I know the Greek community will continue to strive for these ideals in whatever way possible.

There is still much for Greek life to accomplish in the coming years. Having been heavily involved with leadership in the Greek community, I look forward to the future of Greek life on our campus as a more thoughtful, self-critical entity. I am inspired by the leaders I have met in other chapters and my own and know that while it is not always at the attention of the broader community, Greek life has a dedicated, engaged membership that is constantly thinking intelligently about our place at Tufts. My four years here have seen Greek life transform in ways I never expected when I joined as a first-year. The students leading Greek life now make me hopeful for the future.

-Luke Murphy

IFC President Emeritus