Lehigh Introduces Plan for Greek Excellence

The 10-point plan was developed after careful review of current Greek life practices and issues.

Lehigh in snow

Lehigh is implementing a 10-point plan to support excellence in the university’s Greek life experience and positively impact the university.

Lehigh University recently announced a 10-point plan to support excellence in the university’s Greek life experience. It was introduced to presidents of all of Lehigh’s 25 fraternity and sorority chapters in an early March meeting by Ricardo Hall, vice provost for Student Affairs, who said his focus was on outlining specifics for a path forward for Greek life. Hall said the framework is designed to positively impact the university, with a specific emphasis on building upon both the legacy and the potential of the Greek life community.

“We want to cultivate a Greek life experience that is a healthy balance between academics, service and social activity,” he said. “For some time, the focus has been primarily on socialization, and that’s not sustainable in the long term. We want Greek life to be a part of the Lehigh experience for generations of students to come, and we see this plan as our best chance for a revitalized, engaging and productive Greek experience.”

Lehigh trustee Jack Vresics, who also chairs the Student Affairs Committee of the Board of Trustees, said that the trustees “fully support the Greek organizations, alumni, faculty and administration efforts to make Greek life at Lehigh distinctive, as part of our efforts to make the overall Lehigh student experience exceptional.”

The plan, outlined below, bans hard alcohol in all residence halls (including Greek houses) and calls for all chapters to have a full complement of alumni, faculty and staff advisors, beginning with the Fall 2019 semester. Greek houses will also have live-in graduate assistants in each house, beginning in Fall 2021. The assistants will be trained in crisis response to better position the chapters to respond to emergency circumstances.

New to Lehigh will be a New Member Education Institute, as well as a LU Center for Greek Life Excellence and Innovation, which will focus on the positive ideals upon which fraternities and sororities were founded. The Center will seek to identify optimal ways and means to incorporate research findings into the Greek life experience. The plan also calls for Lehigh to host a student-run annual national summit on excellence and innovation in Greek life, with the initial summit targeted for Spring 2020.

“These developments present a real opportunity for Lehigh to be a national leader in this arena,” Hall said. “Students will lead a conference that brings together colleges and universities from across the country to discover and examine ways to make Greek life better. Ideally, it would present an opportunity for our students to showcase Greek life at Lehigh.”

The components of the plan will be rolled out over the course of the next two years, with the most immediate changes being implemented this coming academic year (2019-20). Hall said the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Affairs will initiate and otherwise coordinate much of the plan, but stressed that its successful implementation will depend on partnerships, support, and sustained effort from students, faculty, and staff.

“We are all part of the same community,” Hall said. “We can also be a part of this effort to help shape a Greek life experience that contributes in many positive ways by embodying the highest ideals that are enshrined in their own charters. We have gotten away from that, and it’s time we return.”

The plan components include the following:

1. Faculty and Staff Advisors for all fraternity and sorority chapters

All chapters currently have graduate/alumni advisors, and several have faculty and/or staff advisors.  Advisors who are currently in place will remain, and each chapter will ultimately have a full complement of alumni, faculty, and staff advisors.

Begin date: Fall 2019

2. Live-in Graduate Assistants assigned to all fraternity and sorority houses

Each on campus fraternity and sorority house will have a live-in Graduate Assistant (GA).  GAs will be oriented/trained in a manner consistent with other Residence Life staff members, to include crisis response.  Each chapter will participate in the interview/selection process for prospective Graduate Assistants.

Begin date (pending readiness of space):  Fall 2020
Full staffing: Fall 2021

3. House Manager positions will be staffed by students with class rank of Junior or Senior. House Managers will participate, along with GAs, in Residence Life-led training/orientation.

Begin date: Fall 2020

4. Chapter Presidents will reside in their respective on-campus houses

Mindful of fraternity/sorority bylaws which specifically make new members eligible to hold positions up to and including president, chapters will be encouraged to strongly consider members of Junior or Senior standing to serve as president.

Begin date: Fall 2020

5. Recruitment Chairs and New Member Educators will reside in their respective on-campus houses

Similarly, Recruitment Chairs and New Members Educators will reside on campus.

Begin date: Fall 2020

6. Liquor, spirits, and other “hard alcohol” will not be permitted in Lehigh’s on-campus housing

Consistent with the North American Interfraternity Conference’s recently adopted standard prohibiting hard alcohol from fraternity chapter facilities and events, all Lehigh on-campus residences (to include houses, traditional residence halls, and apartments) will be free of hard alcohol.

Begin date: August 1, 2019

7. Establishment of an All-Greek Council

A twice-semesterly gathering of representatives from each of Lehigh’s fraternity and sorority chapters will provide an opportunity to network, share successes, and identify opportunities to create and promote positive Greek life events, programs, and initiatives.

Begin date: Fall 2019

8. OFSA Recruitment Chair and New Member Education Institute

The Institute will provide insight, guidance, and advice on effective fraternity and sorority recruitment.  Chapters will have an opportunity to facilitate workshops and share their own effective and innovative new member recruitment programs.  National and regional representatives from Lehigh recognized chapters and councils will also be invited to present.

Initial Institute: Fall 2019

9. LU Summit on Greek Life Excellence and Innovation

Colleges and universities (Patriot League, PA campuses, MSCHE campuses, nationwide, etc.) will be invited to this student-run Summit. Lehigh will have an opportunity to become a leader in both thought and action with regard to envisioning, articulating, and demonstrating excellence and innovation in Greek life. 

Initial Summit: Spring 2020

10. LU Center for Greek Life Excellence and Innovation

The Center will focus on the positive ideals upon which fraternities and sororities were founded and seek to identify optimal ways and means to incorporate research findings into actual on-campus Greek life offerings.  The Center will be housed in the Office of Fraternity & Sorority Affairs and will partner with interested faculty, staff, and students on research and the creation of knowledge, as on the application and assessment of existing research that are/have been/will be incorporated into Greek life operations at Lehigh and on other campuses.

Creation of Center: 2019-2020 academic year; pending full staffing of OFSA and coordination with partnering offices and academic departments