Major drama at historic Tufts University.
The university and Tufts Police have just launched “multiple investigations into several Greek organizations” and issued cease-and-desist orders to four fraternities after an explosive article by a gay student appeared in a campus magazine last month alleging “profoundly troubling behavior in our fraternity system,” according to officials.
The article was written by Ben Kesslen, a gay sophomore at the university. During his freshmen year, while he was still figuring out his place in campus culture, Kesslen decided to join a fraternity.
“I was seeking validation in all the wrong places,” he writes in hindsight. “I wanted to be included in an organization and a system that I had previously thought would never accept me. I wanted approval from the men who had rejected me all my life.”
He hooked up with what he believed to be one of the “good” fraternities. He would soon learn this wasn’t the case.
His very first night of rush week proved to be deeply upsetting.
“They brought two women—neither of whom were Tufts students—into the basement, who proceeded to disrobe and have sex with each other on a mattress on the basement floor while we were all told to watch,” Kesslen writes. “When I asked to leave, I was told I could step towards the back but couldn’t exit the basement. I was pressured to stay, and too afraid to defend myself.”
Kesslen stood there uncomfortably as the other pledges were forced to perform oral sex on the women to see who could bring them to orgasm first.
“I watched on the outside, often turning my eyes away, horrified and disgusted,” he continues, “standing next to seniors in the fraternity enraptured by the scene, standing next to Tufts alumni who had returned to this off-campus basement to watch this “tradition.'”
Other offenses he witnessed that night included pledges “being fed shots or forced to do homoerotic and homophobic tasks or made to eat other pledges’ vomit.”
Kesslen chose to drop the fraternity the next day and was warned by the brothers not to tell anyone about what had gone down.
School administrators called the behavior described in Kesslen’s article “deeply disturbing” and said it went against the university’s values and “a variety of laws including those against hazing and sexual misconduct.”
Additionally, the university’s InterFraternity Council suspended all recruitment efforts at all of the school’s 13 fraternities and sororities through spring 2017. Eight fraternities have been required to attend a mandatory sexual misconduct prevention class, an alcohol education session, and training with a hazing prevention expert.
“These preliminary steps do not preclude further appropriate action being taken by the University, but have been implemented as interim measures pending the outcome of the current investigations,” school officials said.
As for Kesslen, he would like to see fraternities banned from the school altogether.
“My narrative alone warrants the abolition of fraternities, and so many other things happen that are just as terrible or even worse,” he writes. “This should scare us.”
He concludes: “We are beyond a point where these institutions can be reformed. Next time you find yourself in the basement of a fraternity on a Saturday night, I ask you think to about what happens there when you aren’t invited.”