Tufts University has suspended all Greek Life on campus after an investigation into hazing allegations that occurred earlier this fall. The allegations came from Tufts junior year student Ben Kesslen, an openly gay male student at Tufts, who wrote in a Tufts Observer Op-Ed entitled “Abolish Fraternities” that in January 2015, he was forced to watch sex acts between men and women in the basement of the fraternity he was pledging. Kesslen states that he was not allowed to leave the room it was occurring in, nor was he able to talk about what happened afterward, even once he dropped out of the fraternity the next day.
The article “Abolish Fraternities” rightfully stirred up a ton of controversy among Tufts administration and students. In addition to the allegations of sex acts, Kesslen also named in an earlier version of the article (which has since been redacted) a fraternity he believed had been actively protecting a fraternity member they knew was guilty of sexual assault. It was only until after a response to “Abolish Fraternities” was penned by the president of that fraternity believed to be protecting their own member, that the school and the police had asked the fraternity not to take any action against the accused. Here the president describes the excruciating “waiting game” they had to play at the request of Tufts University:
On several occasions, we asked why it was taking so long to remove the individual from campus and if we could do something to help. Again, the administration ordered us not to act and to keep all information about the assault confidential to the small group of reporters within our organization. Despite the consistent message from the administration, we did everything possible to keep the assaulter away from our social events and away from our organization [source].
And now, just like that, fraternity life at Tufts University is gone for the foreseeable future. What happened? Honestly, a ton of poor decisions. Where should we start?
First of all, I don’t think that the school should blame one person in particular for closing down Greek Life. But that’s what’s happening.
Should Ben Kesslen have tried to join the fraternity? Absolutely. You should always try new things, that’s what college is for. But I 100% put the burden and blame on the fraternity that accepted him as a brother. I use the term “blame” because (if the allegations are true) of the fact that you’re putting Ben in an extremely uncomfortable situation the moment you accepted him. If you want to have pledging where dudes are eating out chicks on a basement mattress (which sounds in no way fun), then don’t accept Ben. Be sh*tty people in the privacy of your own kind. As long as everything is consensual, why is there a problem?
But having Ben around as the token gay guy to make you feel good about yourself is not progress. Blackball him and move on with your lives. Be friends with Ben, or other gay or trans people outside your fraternity.
But nope. This fraternity accepted Ben, a guy who uses terms like “white cis females” to define his friends, who opens up Op-Ed articles with actual trigger warnings, and who some members of the fraternity must have known would cause some friction. Again, the moment that they chose to accept Ben into their fraternity should have been the same moment that they actually made progress towards removing traditions like the “oral sex mattress bonanza” night. Instead, a few upperclassmen probably thought it’d be funny to make the gay kid watch some chicks go at it, then some guys have at it with the girls.
But now the only thing these fraternity members are watching getting f*cked is themselves. Spring recruitment for fraternities and sororities has been suspended. All Greek Life social activities at Tufts have been suspended.
The natural response we’ve been reading on a lot of forums is blaming Ben for being a narc or whatever. That’s not fair. Don’t blame Ben. Blame the Greek Life system and the idiots who’ve been left to run it.
Finally, I just want to end this article on a somewhat light note. I’ve seen for myself and heard that Tufts students are artsy and weird, but actively bringing women into a basement to eat them out in front of pledges is like the strangest thing I’ve ever heard of in my life. That is not frat at all.