Commission on Residential Environment report presented, receives mixed response

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President John Simon and Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Pat V. Farrell emailed the Commission on Residential Environment report, also known as the CORE report, to members of the Lehigh community on July 7.

The report is 148 pages long and addresses issues associated with the campus climate and the environment in both on- and off-campus residences.

According to the report, “Lehigh’s residential and social environment should promote health and safety, nurture growth of personal values, facilitate diversity and inclusion, integrate the residential and academic aspects of students’ lives, and provide opportunities for rich experiential learning.”

To achieve these goals, the CORE created a list of six major recommendations. These include requiring all students live in university housing for their first three years, focusing and strengthening special interest and affinity housing, fully developing a “living learning” model of residential housing, providing more housing for graduate students, rewriting the social policy and improving support for international undergraduate students.

The report is divided into four sections. The first section focuses on the goals for residential areas, and the second explains both the information the committees gathered during their research and how the university should implement the recommended plan. The third section addresses the issues associated with the recommendations, and the fourth section presents smaller-scale solutions to the problems.

After finances and other practical roadblocks are addressed, a final recommendation will be made by the end of the Spring 2016 semester, according to the email.

The report notes that any changes will take time to implement and execute.

Each suggestion is accompanied by background information and explanations for the change, but some members of the Lehigh community believe there is not enough reason to require students to live on campus for three years. Students are currently required to live on campus their first two years.

A petition on Change.org was created to “Fix Lehigh CORE Assessment,” and members of the community have both signed the petition and commented on the site to explain why they are against requiring juniors to live on campus. As of this article’s publishing date, the petition has gained 138 supporters.

One student believes it would be unfair to require students to live on campus for a third year, because it is cheaper to live off campus.

“Living on campus is outrageously expensive and not necessary for academic performance,” a signer of the petition posted.

The report states that “off campus living is a privilege, not a right,” and the CORE suggests that students should be approved to move off campus based on their GPA and conduct record.

The CORE report, which continually stresses that the goal of any change is to create a more unified campus, also suggests that sophomore students live in dormitories instead of Greek houses, because the current system separates Greek and non-Greek students.

The report reads:

“Sophomore fraternity and sorority members should live in the dormitories and not in their chapter houses. This would have three salubrious effects. It would reduce the exclusivity of the social lives of the sophomore fraternity and sorority members. Second, it would strengthen the fraternities and sororities by increasing the number of upper class residents in the chapter houses. Most important, Lehigh would ensure that the students living on campus would be exposed to curricular and co-curricular opportunities to a greater extent.”

Some students, however, say the report is an attack on the Greek system.

Henry Moyle, ’17, signed the petition and posted, “I don’t want to see the fun sucked out of my school and the anti-Greek rallying cry to continue and ruin the experience of future students.”

A twitter account, @LehighPetition, tweeted the petition and an open letter to John Simon. The letter reiterated the argument for students moving off campus their junior year. A Facebook group named “Fix the Lehigh Core Assessment” was also created to promote changes to the petition.

In their email, Simon and Farrell encourage discussion about the report. Individuals should email [email protected] or post on an online forum to express their opinions.

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2 Comments

  1. As an alumni with a nephew about to enter his Jr. year the attack on greek life appears to be real and McCarthy-like. The unfortunate impact this will likely have on alumni donations will hopefully get new administration to allow students to have the same personal growth and relationship building opportunities that were long the hallmark of undergraduate life on South Mountain.

  2. Alumnus Publius on

    As an alumnus who continues to be actively involved with my fraternity I am appalled at the absurd recommendations in the report.

    How are sophomore new members going to be mentored by the upper class members of their fraternity if they are forced to live in the dormitories and only visit the fraternity house on occasion?

    Look, the realities are that Lehigh has been trying to destroy the Greek system for years. This is obviously what is going on.

    The real problem is that John Smeaton, the head of Student Affairs, is a politically correct uber liberal nut case who hasn’t a clue what he is doing. That is why his empire is filled with utterly useless offices and organizations the cater to every absurd whim that some misfit wants to whine about.

    He is undoubtedly the one who is responsible for the draconian social policy that has created the problems the report is concerned with.

    As a practical matter, Tim Wilkinson was a lousy Dean of Fraternity and Sorority Affairs. So good riddance to him. The previous Dean was much better. He worked hard to try and make the Greek system better and head off problems BEFORE they happened. My take is that Smeaton didn’t like that, and gave him no support. Thus he left and they hired Wilkinson to be Smeaton’s obedient lackey.

    When you look at the quality of Lehigh’s dormitories, many of them are really lousy. The rooms are too small to comfortably accommodate two people along with their beds, desks, chairs, wardrobes, etc. The Centennials, McClintic Marshall, and Taylor are prime examples.

    Living in them is “slum” living.

    No wonder upperclassmen want to flee the campus regardless of Lehigh’s social policy.

    If Lehigh really wants everybody to reside on campus, then they need to think about REDUCING the size of the student body.

    I say cut down the size of the student body by perhaps 1000 students, and make those small dormitory rooms singles rather than doubles.

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