Carolina Maria Reyes | Senior Thoughts
The university and Greek life
Published: Wednesday, February 12, 2014
Updated: Wednesday, February 12, 2014 08:02
On Monday, Feb. 3, 2014, Alexa Horwitz reported in “Sorority Recruitment Breaks Records” that 308 Tufts students participated in sorority recruitment this spring in comparison to the 185 that took part in 2013, and 172 in 2012. These numbers illustrate the growth and rising interest Greek life has seen over recent years at Tufts.
I fully disclose I am a member of the Greek community, and have held various leadership positions in my chapter throughout my time at Tufts. But although I have an interest in portraying the institution positively, and strongly believe that sisterhood (or brotherhood) and philanthropy are worthy of lengthy discussions as seen in Maya Blackstone’s Jan. 28 Daily article, “Greek Life Makes Gains in Philanthropy,” as a senior member of the Greek community, I believe it is imperative to commence a dialogue with the University in regards to its relationship with Greek life.
To summarize, it’s complicated. During my time at Tufts, the Greek director has abruptly left, at least two fraternities have been kicked off campus, many have been on and off probation, and another was only welcomed back after a four-year hiatus.
I don’t pretend to know the details of every violation, or claim that Greek organizations were victims. In most cases, I am certain justice was served. However, in light of these situations, I do take issue with the university’s unwillingness to openly discuss its policies and potential reforms with Greek leaders, and its readiness to allow these violations to color its entire perception and portrayal of the Greek community is disappointing.
Tufts provides prospective students and outsiders with a distorted view of Greek life. It postulates minimal and outdated information about Greek life to downplay its significance on campus. The Tufts admissions website connects to the page for the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life, which provides bare chapter profiles and embarrassingly fails to cite the addition of the latest sorority, Kappa Alpha Theta.
Despite the fact that the admissions webpage has been recently amended to state 18 percent of jumbos “go Greek,” the official website still claims that “approximately 13 percent of undergraduate students choose to join a chapter,” but recent figures provided by Tufts Greek director Su McGlone, show that approximately 22.39 percent of women on campus are involved in sororities, and Mitch Mosk, former Vice President of Zeta Beta Tau, estimates that at least 21.36 percent of undergraduate men are members of fraternities.
These numbers are higher than Tufts reports, and prove that Greek life is growing to become a vibrant part of the Tufts community. Yet by choosing to not properly acknowledge the extent of Greek life, the administration robs the community of an opportunity to showcase its positive aspects and forfeits a chance to productively engage with it.
I understand Tufts’ concern with portraying itself as a school that is “too Greek.” National media is rife with stories of Greek organizations that party excessively, haze or discriminate. This can cause harm to a university’s reputation. Thus, Tufts may believe prospective students might feel apprehensive about applying to a university where Greek life is a major component of the campus culture.
But if Tufts is progressive, it will acknowledge that Greek life here does not conform to the national stereotype, and that there is a value in recognizing the positive contributions of an institution that more than 1 in 5 students choose to join. Greeks are quintessential Tufts students: they lead the Leonard Carmichael Society, teach ex-college courses, organize Tisch Scholars projects, run the Boston marathon, intern on Capitol Hill and hold a wealth of campus leadership positions. As Greek life grows, the administration should work with it, because Greeks are Jumbos too.
Carolina Maria Reyes is a senior majoring in international relations. She can be reached at Carolina.Reyes@tufts.edu.