This semester, fraternities are hosting “epic party weekends” on the Hill in an effort to draw more attention to on-campus parties.
“Epic party weekends” consist of registered parties, which are parties approved by the Lehigh administration. Event staff are present at the registered parties to monitor students’ behavior and alcohol consumption.
On Sept. 17, Kappa Alpha, Alpha Tau Omega and Theta Chi fraternities hosted registered parties, which over 1,400 combined students attended, said Interfraternity Council President Kyle Durics, ’17.
Lehigh’s campus climate survey showed 85 percent of the Lehigh community believes the negative climate on campus is institutional and systematic. With this in mind, IFC created a proposal that would bring more parties to the Hill and increase unity between Greek and non-Greek students.
“The campus climate survey was negative, but these parties are something extremely positive that are coming out of Greek life,” said Kallyse Duddlesten, ’17, the coordinator of the Greek Emerging Leaders program. “We are proud to say that we are in the process of creating unity on campus.”
Duddlesten said the overall response from students was positive, and there is a high demand for more of these parties in the future.
Durics said Lehigh students struggle with diverging from their own Greek chapter or group of friends. He said registered parties allow students to spend more time with their friends from other groups, thus creating a more inclusive Lehigh community.
Durics’ goal is to bring first-years and sophomores to the Hill to expose them to the social scene the school wants to develop.
“I feel as if the registered parties on the Hill allow more, if not all, kinds of people to go to parties,” Bilal Ali, ’18, said. “I think it is more comfortable to attend on-campus parties because there are different kinds of people there, and non-Greek individuals feel less out of place if they ever do get that feeling.”
Lehigh’s administration supports the movement of parties from off-campus houses to the Hill.
“IFC and (the Panhellenic Council) like this new system because the administration is giving students more self-responsibility,” Durics said.
Over the weekend, members of IFC and Panhel worked with Lehigh event staff and police to monitor the parties and to ensure they were running smoothly. Durics said Lehigh has modeled this new system after those at Stanford University and Syracuse University.
Lehigh is also working on creating the Inter-Fraternity Judiciary Council, which would serve as a new governing body on campus and would take on some cases of the Office of Student Conduct & Community Expectations, ultimately giving students more responsibility.
Durics said on-campus parties could promote safety and a stronger relationship between Lehigh and the South Side community. Most parties are held in small off-campus houses, and this leads to fire hazards and other dangers. He said these parties are also disruptive to those who live in surrounding areas.
Durics said the movement of parties to the Hill could help alleviate these issues. Although the effects of on-campus parties are not immediate, the parties could have a significant impact on Lehigh’s campus in five or 10 years.
Duddlesten said there was a minor problem this weekend when two fire alarms sounded. This was an unforeseeable issue caused by excess heat. No one was harmed.
Durics said President Simon has said he would like to see a more robust social scene on the Hill. Students on IFC and Panhel are working toward the same goal.