I am writing to let you know about the steps we are taking to address important issues related to undergraduate student life and the Greek system on the Medford/Somerville campus.
Recent messages from our deans to the campus community and Tufts families have referred to disturbing reports of hazing and/or sexual misconduct within the Greek system. We are thoroughly investigating these allegations; Greek social activities and spring recruitment remain temporarily suspended in order to support the safety of the Greek organizations, their members and our community.
In light of the scope and seriousness of what has been reported, I believe we must comprehensively assess undergraduate student life at Tufts with a particular focus on the Greek system. We need to retain the best parts of what our student organizations add to campus life while eliminating those practices and behaviors that are inconsistent with our values.
Accordingly, I am appointing a Student Life Review Committee to undertake a holistic assessment of the culture of undergraduate student life at Tufts, with attention to the roles of residential strategy, student organizations, athletics and clubs as well as the Greek system. I will ask the committee to report to me on its findings and recommendations for how we can strengthen student life and enhance its contribution to our students’ wellbeing, personal growth, and sense of connection to a vibrant Tufts community.
The committee will be chaired by Susan H. Murphy, Ph.D., a nationally respected leader in student affairs who recently retired from Cornell University after serving for more than 20 years as Vice President of Student and Academic Services. At Cornell, Dr. Murphy was credited with positively transforming the student experience and emphasizing student health and well-being. I have also asked two members of the Board of Trustees, Deborah R. (“Deb”) Jospin J80, A14P and Daniel J. (“Dan”) Doherty III H03, to serve as vice chairs of the committee. The committee membership will also include faculty, students, staff, parents, alumni, and representatives of our host communities of Medford and Somerville. It will begin its review in January 2017 and will be asked to take a broadly consultative approach and to seek insights on the best practices of peer institutions.
We need to understand how our current structures and systems support Tufts’ commitment to inclusiveness, vital engagement and mutual respect; to assess whether our campus culture fosters the skills and transformative experiences our students are seeking; and to decide how to promote a healthier and more holistic environment for all students. I believe that the committee will find much that is positive in our campus culture on which to build, while offering a chance to significantly strengthen our approach to meaningfully engaging students in co-curricular life.
I appreciate the deep commitment to enhancing undergraduate life at Tufts that I have heard from so many members of the university community, and look forward to sharing more details of the review committee process and membership as soon as possible after the start of the New Year. In the meantime, I hope that you and your families have a wonderful holiday season.