More than half of the 17 fraternities and sororities at Tufts University hazed students and violated the school’s policy on alcohol abuse and sexual harassment, college officials found after an extensive investigation that concluded Monday.
Two fraternities have closed, including one shut down before the most recent investigation. Tufts has banned another from the university for a decade, and several other Greek organizations are on probation or have been suspended recently, according to university officials.
“These investigations have provoked passionate debate and reflection on campus,” James M. Glaser, a Tufts dean, wrote in letter to the university community on Monday updating students on the status of the investigations. “Sustained conversations over the last several months have produced several shifts on our campus, including a more consistent culture of accountability and a deeper awareness across student organizations of how student leaders and program participants can prevent, recognize, and combat dangerous or degrading behaviors.”
Administrators launched a review of Greek life last fall after allegations of misconduct by sororities and fraternities surfaced and caused an uproar on campus, forcing administrators at the time to suspend new recruitment for these organizations.
The school newspaper published a graphic account of a fraternity rush, including students being forced to watch other pledges perform oral sex on women.
The allegations prompted some Tufts students to urge administrators to abolish sororities and fraternities from campus, despite the university’s long history of welcoming Greek organizations.
Earlier this fall, Tufts announced that it would establish tougher rules and oversight of these organizations. Tufts allowed some sororities and fraternities to recruit new students this fall but limited membership to those in their sophomore year or older and required pledges to attend a hazing prevention and safety workshop.
The letter, penned by Glaser and other top Tufts administrators, said the university will continue to push for “comprehensive reform” of Greek life in the months and years ahead.
Universities across the country are grappling with how to regulate fraternities and sororities, which can be central to the social life of a campus but have also been dogged by allegations of misconduct. Three students have died at fraternity-related events on colleges this year.
On Monday, prosecutors in Pennsylvania filed additional criminal charges against members of a Penn State fraternity after a video showed them giving a 19-year-old pledge, who eventually died of alcohol-related causes, 18 drinks in less than an hour and half as part of a hazing ritual. Penn State has since banned that fraternity and adopted new safety measures.
Florida State University suspended all fraternity and sorority activities after a student’s death earlier this month.
At Tufts no criminal charges were filed against students for the violations, Patrick Collins, a spokesman, said.
But even colleges where students haven’t died are reconsidering their policies on these social groups.
Harvard University, for example, is considering whether to phase out exclusive social organizations, such as final clubs, along with sororities and fraternities, over concerns that they foster a discriminatory and unsafe environment.