Students partake in various team bonding activities as part of LeaderShape. (Courtesy of Lehigh University Communications and Public Affairs)

LeaderShape date change conflicts with sorority rush


Since its installation at Lehigh two years ago, LeaderShape has been held after the end of the spring semester in May. The six-day leadership development retreat has been moved to the last week of winter break, conflicting with formal sorority recruitment.

The retreat will be held the last week of winter break from Jan. 19-24. The date change is because of a shift in the university’s calendar. Lehigh has had entire week between the end of exams and commencement in past years, but this week was moved to the end of winter break. The university did this to provide students with more time to participate in a variety of activities.

LeaderShape is a national program that was started on Lehigh’s campus two years ago. It is an immersive program that provides students with an opportunity to develop their identity and leadership skills while increasing the number of people in the community who lead with integrity. The goal of the program is to provide participants with a “healthy disregard for the impossible,” according to the LeaderShape website.

LeaderShape is a six-day retreat that takes place at Camp Canadensis in the Pocono Mountains. (Courtesy of Lehigh University Communications and Public Affairs)

LeaderShape is a six-day retreat that takes place at Camp Canadensis in the Pocono Mountains. (Courtesy of Lehigh University Communications and Public Affairs)

When LeaderShape was held at the end of the spring semester, students participating in commencement, summer internships or summer classes could not go on the six-day retreat with LeaderShape. This also contributed to the retreat date change.

LeaderShape’s new dates now directly coincide with sorority recruitment, which is a mandatory process for any first- or second-year female student who wants to join Greek life. It is also mandatory for women in Greek life. Because of this, female members of a Greek organization will be limited in their participation of LeaderShape.

Before the LeaderShape dates were changed, the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Affairs was consulted. The program facilitators recognize that students involved in sorority recruitment will be unable to participate in the program.

Students can join the program during any point in their college career. Last year, eight of the 52 participants at Lehigh were involved with a sorority. The program is unsure of whether this number will be affected by the date change, but is hopeful that it will receive the same number of applications from sorority women as they did last year.

“For first-year women who are interested in LeaderShape and in joining a Panhellenic sorority, we would encourage them to seek out LeaderShape in future years,” said Allison Gulati, associate dean and director of strategic initiatives. “We intend for this program to be a staple of the (Lehigh University) experience for years to come and feel confident that they will have multiple opportunities to attend.”

Lehigh’s program accepts a group of 60 diverse students and then takes these students on a six-day retreat to Camp Canadensis in the Pocono Mountains. They have a dialogue with others to further their self-discovery. At the end of the retreat, students are asked to develop a vision of their idea of a perfect world. They then break this vision down into obtainable steps. The goal of this activity is to inspire students to work toward a better community.

“The students are sent back to campus with a desire to change the world,” said Christina Jordan, assistant director of leadership development.

Students who participate in the program often comment on how the program helped to shape them into the people that they are today.

“In just six days, I was reminded and taught a lot as a leader,” said Sheilla Rukundo, ’17, a participant in LeaderShape. “But one thing that has been a life changing moment is making any decision whether small or big based on my values.”

The program has grown over the last few years, and the Office for Leadership Development would like to see the program become an even bigger event on Lehigh’s campus. Participant applications are up now and will be open until Nov. 1. Students can find out more by looking at the student’s affairs section of Lehigh’s website or by emailing [email protected]

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