The start of an academic year brings change to the Lehigh community. Among these changes are new executive boards for clubs and organizations that bring fresh ideas and perspectives to their groups.
Three Lehigh seniors — Bryce Macomber, Djenne Dickens and Molly Bankuti — started their tenures as presidents of the universities’ Greek councils this year. The individuals hope to promote inclusivity and progress in their respective organizations.
With the removal of Kappa Sigma fraternity this summer, the Interfraternity Council (IFC) now represents 16 chapters. IFC president Bryce Macomber, ’18, said the loss of a chapter will not have a huge impact on the council, but he said unrecognized chapters present a challenge to the Greek community.
“It’s hard to manage because you can’t hold them accountable to the same standards because they’re not in the meetings,” Macomber said. “They’re not a recognized organization so they can kind of undercut everything we’re pushing for. If we’re trying to implement new policies, we can’t hold them to that same policy.”
Under current Lehigh guidelines, unrecognized chapters are not allowed to affiliate with recognized chapters. Macomber said while individual members can certainly remain friends, the organizations are not allowed to plan events with unrecognized chapters.
Along those lines, IFC hopes to increase personal responsibility throughout the Greek community this year.
“As the first week has shown, there’s a responsibility problem within ourselves,” Macomber said, “because people are involved in irresponsible consumption methods, and we need to hold each other accountable to start being more responsible.”
Macomber said they want to work on social reform and challenge the pregame culture.
“You shouldn’t feel inclined to drink a whole water bottle of alcohol before you go out,” Macomber said. “That’s not the environment we’re trying to have, so we need to figure out ways to reform that.”
Corey Gant, the assistant director of the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Affairs (OFSA), echoed Macomber’s sentiments.
“Together, this year we want to focus on both holding our organizations accountable as well as serving as an advisory board to educate chapters on best practices, risk management, etc.,” Gant wrote in an email.
The council also wants to improve relationships within and among the IFC, Greek and Lehigh communities as a whole.
Macomber believes one way to do this would be through campus philanthropy and community service.
“So something like the Homework Club, which is something we do with the South Bethlehem community where we go to one middle school and a church and help deliver food,” Macomber said. “It’s a great opportunity for different members of different chapters to meet one another.”
Macomber also wants to see improvement in member education. OFSA, along with IFC, is focusing its efforts around chapter and council development this year.
Macomber said chapters should continue having challenging conversations and push themselves to expand member development beyond the six weeks of new member education. He said things like bringing administration officials to chapter meetings could encourage fraternities to continue these efforts.
Cultural Greek Council
Previously known as the Multicultural Greek Council, the Cultural Greek Council (CGC) changed its name this spring in an effort be more inclusive in defining the organizations on the council.
Along with this change, council president Djenne Dickens, ’18, wants CGC to have a bigger presence at Lehigh.
“I definitely want to see just more recognition on campus,” Dickens said. “I know we’re working on getting some physical recognition on campus.”
While members of the IFC and Panhellenic communities have physical representation in chapter houses on the Hill, the groups represented by CGC are too small to meet chapter house requirements. The council represents two active sororities and one active fraternity on campus, the smallest number of Greek members, compared to IFC or Panhel.
Dickens said physical representation may be in the shape of pillars or something else, but she has begun talking to the administration about it and hopes to see some sort of representation by the end of the academic year.
“I think that will help people realize that CGC is a presence,” Dickens said, “an active thing on campus.”
The council also plans to have a bigger presence in the Multicultural Room and focus on social justice issues the country is facing.
On Sept. 7, CGC held a rally in support of DACA, after President Trump called for its repeal. Dickens said there will be more events like this in the future.
“You can definitely count on there being some sort of discussions or panels coming up to talk about those things just because we find it important to provide spaces for people to express their opinions in a healthy and safe way,” Dickens said.
“A big goal for me is fixing the recruitment process,” said Molly Bankuti, ’18, the Panhellenic Council president. “The dirty rushing that happens, bid promising and recruiting only through partying.”
As part of the changes, the council has reframed the rules for the recruitment process. Bankuti said they are trying to take a more natural approach rather than enforce specific guidelines.
For example, in previous years, sorority women were asked not to like or comment on photos potential new members (PNMs) posted to social media.
“The whole idea of ‘liking’ photos, it’s OK if you were her friend and you think her photo is nice you can ‘like’ it, but you can’t go and tell all your chapter, all your sisters to like the photo because that’s weird,” Bankuti said. “Are you doing this to rush them or are you doing this to be their friend?”
The council has also made changes to Rho Gammas, or recruitment guides. Previously Rho Gams had to disaffiliate from their chapters fall semester and throughout the formal recruitment process. This year, guides are able to remain affiliated with their chapters.
Bankuti said Panhel believes this could be beneficial to PNMs during the formal recruitment period.
“If (Rho Gams) are affiliated with certain chapters, if someone is dead-set on a certain chapter, the Rho Gam can then step in and be like, ‘Look, I’m telling you as a member of that chapter, there are no promises, there is no guarantee, as much as you may have relationships with these girls and as much as you may like them,'” she said.
Bankuti also hopes to work with OFSA to foster a stronger relationship with Greek chapters and improve the accreditation process. While she thinks it’s a helpful check for Greek organizations, chapters may be hesitant to talk about improvements they need for fear of repercussion from OFSA. She wants people to see them as a resource, not just a policing force.
All three presidents said Lehigh Greek life needs to work to improve inclusivity and campus community.
“It feels so cliquey at times, people don’t know each other,” Macomber said.
He said he wants to find a way for people to interact outside the typical social scene, beyond just the classroom and parties.
Dickens said CGC wants to develop deeper and stronger relationships with other organizations on campus. She said this extends beyond Greek life to athletics, clubs and offices on campus.
Like the other council presidents, Bankuti said she wants to create a community that is welcoming and inclusive.
“I think a big part of this is figuring out how to make Greek life more accessible for people who come from all walks of life,” she said, “not just certain experiences or backgrounds.”