'Low' by Flo Rida slowly transitions to Mo Bamba. A flock of boys with backwards hats and basketball jerseys rush the floor as their anthem blares. This is the fraternity experience I had pledged myself to just a few weeks prior. While I expected and had prepared myself for these situations prior to joining a fraternity, I didn’t realize that this was just a very small part of what Greek life is at Tufts.
Some part of my Westchester, NY upbringing made me feel like Greek life was a rite of passage for me, despite my 20 years as a man of color. At Tufts, you aren’t able to join Greek life until your sophomore year, which I liked because it gave students the opportunity to find their own social niche outside of a fraternity. I wasn’t able to meet as many people my first year as I had wanted due to Covid-19, and so I was determined to make friends. In this time, I noticed that the fun, stereotypical college experience that was branded to me as every college’s norm growing up wasn’t my reality, and I wanted to change that. In my first year of college I became friends with some people who were already involved in Greek life and they advocated for me to join. When I notified my family of my plan to rush a fraternity, I was clowned to a new level, mainly because to them Greek life was a breeding ground for institutionalized racism. I remained excited, though, as my friends had promised me that at Tufts, it was nothing like that.
During the process I became super tight with the other people in my class and I still maintain most of those relationships. I was worried about the rush and pledging process because I had always heard about how Greek Life could include hazing or that it could feel aggressive, but my process at Tufts wasn’t like that at all. It was actually really nice to have facilitated social activities after not having much at all during Covid-19.
As time went on I began to understand that the fraternity was more than just social events. Sometimes it’s just nice to just have a group to text and ask to grab a meal with. It has helped me meet some gym friends who have helped me keep on track and stay motivated. The fraternity is great for networking and job searching due to a strong alumni network. We even have a philanthropy chair who is in charge of planning events, like our pie-a-member for charity or volunteer work like reading books to local elementary school students.
When I debriefed with my family about what being in the fraternity was actually like, they clowned me again until I told them I made my first friend who was also Puerto Rican through the fraternity. They were all super surprised when I told them that the fraternity is really diverse. Their concern then shifted to the cost of being in Greek life, but I eased their concerns when I told them of the financial aid the fraternity could provide, and how that made it pretty affordable.
It’s funny when I think of my relationship to Greek life and how the aspects of it that I love the most aren’t the ones people typically think of when they think of a fraternity—Greek life at Tufts offers way more than that for everyone.