After the presidents of Lehigh’s nine Panhellenic chapters chose to reduce the frequency of parties in their weekly social calendars, controversy surrounding the effects of the decision sparked conversation within the Greek community.
During a retreat earlier this semester, the Panhellenic presidents discussed their goals for the semester and in what direction they hoped to see the Panhellenic and greater Greek community progress.
Brenna Healy, ’15, the vice president of judicial on the Panhellenic executive board, said during this retreat the idea of cutting back scheduled parties from five nights a week to four was suggested.
Elizabeth Bredahl, ’17, the president of Gamma Phi Beta, said the idea of eliminating one night of scheduled parties per week was addressed because some new members have expressed that they are feeling overwhelmed with the new member education process combined with going out frequently.
Once this discussion began, Bredahl said some of the presidents and members of their chapters agreed they also did not want to feel compelled to go out five nights a week. Bredahl said they chose to try temporarily discontinuing scheduled parties on Wednesday night.
This message about canceling parties on Wednesday nights for the spring semester upset some Interfraternity Council members. After the Panhellenic Council learned that the IFC felt it had not been communicated with well enough about the decision, the council wanted to have a discussion about the temporary solution.
“I think no one really thought of the backlash that would come from doing so because we didn’t think far enough into it and how many fraternities there were and how it would affect them,” Bredahl said.
On Feb. 12, members of the IFC attended Panhellenic’s weekly meeting in order to become a part of the discussion and voice their opinions.
The Panhellenic Council said it hopes to come up with a conclusion soon but Healy said right now it is still in the stages of discussion between the Panhellenic Executive board, chapter presidents and general members.
Open discussions within each chapter are being encouraged to discuss social schedules in the future and the potential effects on the Greek community. Representatives will then vocalize their chapter’s ideas and suggestions to the Panhellenic Council.
“We have a lot of these really great conversations among the leadership in the houses, but that only goes so far,” Healy said. “In order for anything to happen good or bad everyone needs to be aware and be on board with it.”
The temporary decision has received both positive and negative feedback from Greek chapters, both sororities and fraternities. Some IFC members vocalized concerns that cutting back parties will further drive a lack of diversity in social schedules.
“I like where their hearts are at,” said Richard Sodeke, ’15, the social chair of Chi Psi fraternity. “They are trying to do good things by cutting down on the partying that we do, but I don’t think that just cutting one day out of the week is really going to fix where the problem is going to happen.”
Chi Psi fraternity – which is compromised of many players on Lehigh’s football team – has a stringent schedule, only allowing its members to go out on Wednesday and Saturday evenings.
“It’s foolish to make one day the day people can’t go out because they don’t know everyone’s schedule— maybe that’s the only day they can go out,” Sodeke said.
Sneha Alaparthi, ’16, the president of Alpha Omicron Pi sorority, discussed the idea of what the Greek community could do differently at the start of next semester during the Feb. 12 meeting.
“If we were to warn social chairs ahead of time to tell them we can only schedule ‘x’ amount of parties, they can definitely make sure that everyone is accounted for ahead of time, as opposed to canceling that week and offending certain frats,” Alaparthi said.
Although Panhellenic and IFC have not reached a permanent decision for the future, the organizations are working to make these types of changes within the Greek community effective soon.