Lehigh Greek recruitment processes to face major changes

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The Office of Fraternity and Sorority Affairs, the Interfraternity Council and the Panhellenic Council are all striving toward changing the Greek recruitment processes this year to move past surface-level issues and focus more on value-based connections.

Greek life is undoubtedly a big part of Lehigh’s campus, as just under 50 percent of the undergraduate student body is involved with either the Interfraternity, Panhellenic or multicultural Greek chapters after recruitment concludes in the spring, according to Interfraternity Council President Ryan Newcomer, ’15.

“Both IFC and Panhellenic recruitment changes are being made to develop more of a values-based approach,” said Riley Barry, ’15, president of the Panhellenic Council. “We want potential new members to learn about the values of each organization and to be a fully informed consumer before finalizing their decision on which chapter they feel is best for them to join.”

The change is being advocated and brought forth by the 55 members that make up the Interfraternity Council, Panhellenic Council and Multicultural Greek Council. They will be the ones relaying these messages to their chapter members, Newcomer said.

“The men are attempting to structure their recruitment, while the sororities are making recruitment less about the facilities and more about the experiences of potential new members,” said Tim Wilkinson, director of Fraternity and Sorority Affairs.

The Interfraternity Council is promoting conversations that will expose the falsehoods of Greek culture at Lehigh, Newcomer said. The organization plans to create programs that will aim toward uniting all members of Greek life as one community.

“At this point in the year, it is hard to see that there are changes in motion from an outside perspective, but rest assured that they are happening,” Newcomer said.

Several changes currently being made to sorority formal recruitment include reducing budgets, shortening the recruitment week from five to four days and hosting events in academic buildings on campus. These changes are intended to shift the focus of recruitment away from materialistic items and instead to the conversations, Barry said.

One of the ways the Interfraternity Council, Panhellenic Council and Office of Fraternity and Sorority Affairs plan to implement these changes during the fall semester is by leveraging 5×10 seminars, which first-year students are required to attend throughout their first semester at Lehigh as a supplement to the Orientation process. The events help students explore various facets of campus life, expectations of being a Lehigh student and how to better understand themselves, said Phi Delta Theta President JJ O’Brien, ‘16. Throughout the semester, programs discussing various aspects of Lehigh Greek life will also satisfy 5×10 requirements, encouraging first-year students to learn more about the Greek community before rush begins in the spring.

“The idea is to provide first-year students and other interested parties with the information that they need to make an educated decision on which chapter they would like to join,” Newcomer said.

He expressed excitement for these events because of a general lack of education about Greek life during first-year Orientation.

“The first experience (of Greek life) students get is at an off-campus party, reinforcing the negative mentality that fraternities are just glorified drinking clubs,” Newcomer said.

“Students see Greek life as a social outlet to get to know each other, but it is so much more,” said Jennifer Tedeschi, a new Interfraternity Council adviser.

Tedeschi said the Interfraternity Council, Panhellenic Council and Multicultural Greek Council are working to show students that Greek life gives students an experience that does not exist in other organizations.

Lehigh’s Club Expo is available to other clubs and organizations, but Greek chapters are not permitted to host their own tables there. This prompted O’Brien to create an event dedicated to giving Greek chapters the same opportunity to meet first-year students.

O’Brien came up with the idea of the “Go Greek!” event for first-year students because he felt that the Greek community, as a whole, does not make enough of an effort to reach out to students when they first arrive at Lehigh. The event was intended to give first-year students the chance to talk to different chapters and understand what it really means to become a part of a Greek organization.

“As a community, individuals and organizations want to make change, but still struggle to hold each other accountable,” Wilkinson said. “My perception is that the community is beginning to understand that change is necessary to keep Greek Life relevant.”

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