Kendell Garden, '16, and Rebekah Campo, '16, hand out shirts to students Nicolette Dunphy, '18, and Julianna D'Orazio, '17 on Friday, August 28th, 2015 on the sidewalk outside RBC. These free shirts are given to students who wear Brown and White on Lehigh's first official Brown and White day. (Roshan Giyanani/B&W photo)

Unifying Lehigh and South Side with brown and white

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The first Friday of the fall semester marked both the end of the first week of classes and the beginning of a new Lehigh tradition.

Brown and White Day was held for the first time on Friday, Aug. 28 and called upon students, faculty and staff members to don the university’s colors.

President John Simon and Provost Patrick Farrell introduced the new tradition in an email Aug. 25, describing it as a “campus-wide initiative to enhance Lehigh pride.”

Roseann Corsi, a partnership representative for Lehigh athletics and a founding member of the Brown and White committee – which was responsible for the initiative – said the goal is to build unity and display Lehigh pride. Members of the South Side community also are encouraged to join the initiative.

“To bring us more of one, to bring us together as a family (is the goal),” Corsi said. “We’re trying to reach out to a lot of the businesses that students go to, and we provided them with Lehigh shirts for them to wear them on Fridays.”

In addition to providing brown Lehigh shirts to members of the Lehigh and South Side communities, the committee posted “Got Brown?” and “Got White?” signs around campus that encouraged the wearing of school colors each week.

This year marks Lehigh’s sesquicentennial year and Brown and White Day is one of the projects aimed at promoting unity between the Lehigh and South Side communities for this celebration.

Silagh White, the director of arts engagement and community cultural affairs, has been involved with the planning of the sesquicentennial year activities. White hopes the Brown and White initiative will unite and celebrate both the South Side and Lehigh community.

“I gave a heads up to the local retailers,” White said. “I said, ‘Stock up! We’re going to need some brown.’ I think it’s a great thing. The whole idea of campus unity and spirit through doing something together, I think it’s fantastic. It shows amazing institutional spirit.”

Many members of the community dressed in brown and white on Friday, and Corsi believes the first Brown and White Day was the start of a successful tradition.

“I’ve talked to some of the students and they were excited,” Corsi said. “I think it’s a good thing, but we have still have a lot to go.”

Despite the day’s perceived success, some members of the campus community did not participate.

Members of the Brown and White committee said they are aware that other campus groups show spirit through their organization’s apparel, but hope that they acknowledge themselves as part of the greater Lehigh community by wearing brown and white on Fridays.

“We’re not trying to take away anything from any group or any organization,” Corsi said. “I think one thing I was trying to get across to people is that we’re at Lehigh. Our colors are brown and white.”

Chad Davis, the senior director of the Lehigh Fund, is confident the tradition will grow and spark positive change in the campus culture.

“I hope brown and white unifies that campus a little bit, with that thought of being able to walk across the campus and see faculty, staff, students, alumni who are visiting with that commonality of just wardrobe and school spirit,” Davis said.

He hopes the school spirit that is displayed will spill over in to other areas.

“Hopefully it does take off from there,” Davis said. “Not just dress, but really people getting spirited about Lehigh and really fostering that pro-Lehigh attitude I think would be an exciting start.”

The tradition will continue every Friday and individuals are encouraged to join in the event each week by wearing anything that is brown and white.

“This is for the rest of ever,” Corsi said. “Forever.”

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