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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Friday, June 14, 2024

Protesters raise allegations about national, Tufts Greek organizations at Parents Weekend

The anti-Greek life protesters hold signs in front of Sophia Gordon Hall and the Aidekman Arts Center during Parents and Family Weekend.

During Parents and Family Weekend, a group of students arranged an anti-Greek life protest in front of Sophia Gordon Hall and the Aidekman Arts Center.

The protesters held three signs with the following text: “1. DID YOU KNOW??? Kappa Alpha Theta ~ A Phi ~ DTD ~ Chi O ~ Theta Chi ~ AOII ~ ZBT ~ Zeta Psi FUND LOBBYING GROUPS WORKING TO HALT RAPE INVESTIGATIONS 2. DTD & PI RHO ARE GUILTY OF SEXUAL HARASSMENT AND HAZING VIOLATIONS. THEY RECRUITED THIS FALL 3. Panhellenic Greek Life was founded for and by white students. It can never escape this history. Violent pasts lead to violent futures.”

The main goal was to educate parents about the current status of Greek life, explained Aidan Huntington, the organizer of the event.

It was important that parents know where the money goes that they might be paying towards their child's dues, or that their child is paying," Huntington, a third-year combined degree student, told the Daily in an email. "It also is a reminder that the 'fraternal experience' is tied hand-in-hand with sexual assault."

Huntington explained that, because parents are usually the ones paying tuition, they tend to have more of a voice with the administrators, and explaining to them the shortcomings of Greek life on campus is imperative.

The national chapters of these Frats/Sororities pay money to the Fraternity and Sorority Political Action Committee which lobbies to 'protect the fraternal experience,'" Huntington said. "They do things like push congress to make it harder to investigate rape cases on college [campuses]."

A 2015 Boston Globe article reported that committee is making it harder for schools to investigate cases of rape by requiring that they first go through the criminal justice system. Furthermore, this political action committee supported the Safe Campus Act, which fights to protect the exemption of fraternities and sororities from Title IX.

However, according to protester Yoji Watanabe, during the protest they were approached by an alumnus.

“A middle-aged White Man, telling me and the other POC protester that we were wrong about Greek Life's white and segregated past; that they were created for all students, and his own White children had such great experiences in Greek Life that we are wrong in holding these opinions,” Watanabe told the Daily in an email.

The Greek life alumnus then shifted the conversation to gun violence in Medford, stating that it would be a more useful issue to protest, added Watanabe.

According to both Huntington and Watanabe, many Tufts fraternities and sororities are complicit in donating money to the Fraternity and Sorority Political Action Committee, because dues that members pay to national organizations may be contributed to the committee's causes. Watanabe cited eight Tufts fraternities and sororities whose national chapters are linked to the committee.

"[Greek life at Tufts] is contributing money to lobby congress to protect rapists, use charitable donations to the organizations on house improvements, and make Greek-affiliated organizations exempt from Title IX policies, which are in place to ensure all students have equal opportunities on a college campus," Watanabe said.

According to a 2013 article in the Sydney Morning Herald, The Fraternity and Sorority Action Committee has lobbied Congress for a multi-million dollar tax break which would allow charitable donations to be put toward the building and renovating of chapter houses.

Luke Murphy, the president of the Interfraternity Council (IFC) and a Daily columnist, told the Daily in an email that despite protesters' accusations, fraternities are committed to safety and inclusivity. Murphy said he had not reached out to protesters.

“The Interfraternity Council is committed to continuing to improve the safety and inclusivity of our organizations," Murphy, a senior, said. "We continue to encourage dialogue between Greek and non-Greek students about how Tufts Greek Life can play its best role on campus."

The protesters have not reached out to administrative offices like the Office of the Dean of Student Affairs or the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life, according to Huntington. Watanabe said that, so far, only one Greek organization has reached out to the protesters to discuss issues, remedies and long-term initiatives.

Murphy invited protesters to reach out to the IFC.

"The Interfraternity Council is not planning to make a public statement to address these protests," he said. "I encourage people to reach out [to] us and have real conversations about our role on campus.  If those that displayed the signs on Parents' Weekend (I do not know who the individuals were) want to talk about Greek Life and improving campus life, I am just an email away."

Watanabe also expressed a desire for dialogue.

"White Greek Life members, talk to POC protesters, that'd be a great start. Ignoring the racial issues is taking a step backward. Engage with us. We are open to talk during our protests," Watanabe said. "Yes, reading our signs are a start, but that should not be the end of your engagement with issues of sexual assault, class divide, and racial disparities."