Panhel changes social policy in response to student concerns


Lehigh’s Panhellenic Council voted to pass a new social policy Thursday in response to concerns about social pressures faced by sorority members. Sorority chapters are working toward a more inclusive social scene for their members.

Each year, Panhel members attend a annual Greek leadership retreat known as “base camp.” There, leaders attempt to set goals for the upcoming year and find new ways to improve life for Greek chapters.

This year at base camp, Greek chapter representatives placed their focus on the social scene for sorority women. The number of social events and pressure for sorority women to attend these events has largely become a concern at Lehigh, which the Princeton Review ranked the No. 4 party school in the nation.

“During a brainstorming session (at base camp), the Panhellenic presidents were discussing the issue of so many parties being scheduled during the week,” said Margaret Burnett, ’17, the president of Panhellenic Council.

In an effort to find a solution to the issue, the Panhel presidents began crafting a new social policy together.

Courtesy of Lehigh Interfraternity Council Download permissions

Courtesy of Lehigh Interfraternity Council
Download permissions

“The policy says that no chapter can have a scheduled event more than five times a week, only three of those can be parties, the events may only span over four days and a pregame has to happen on the same day as a party,” Burnett said.

This policy was also in response to a survey given to Greek members, which found members were happiest when they attended only two events per week. However, Burnett said Greek chapters typically schedule more than two events each week.

The purpose of the changes to the Greek social schedule also stem from Lehigh’s initiative to make the campus more inclusive.

“There’s also a section (in the guidelines) about (Epic Party Weekends), which basically says no sorority will schedule with a fraternity who’s involved in an (Epic Party Weekend) event, just to keep the integrity of the event, which is to be open and inclusive,” Burnett said.

Panhel hopes its chapter delegates will not only concern themselves with their own chapters’ needs but the needs of the community.

The policy was adapted by Panhel bylaws Thursday after the council voted. If a chapter is found to be violating these new rules, it will face the judicial process.

Members of Panhel did not create the policy with the intention of mandating the number of social events sorority members attend.

“What we’re trying to combat here is just the pressure to go out,” Burnett said.

Although sororities can only schedule five social events each week, this rule will not apply if a sorority would like to schedule an Epic Party Weekend event. These events must be open to all members of the community.

Burnett said Panhel is taking the new social rules seriously. It is attempting to remain transparent by educating chapter socials and communicating decisions to chapter members. Panhel is also planning to send emails of the guidelines to each chapter member.

Burnett said she has discussed the policy with the Interfraternity Council executive board and each fraternity chapter president to ensure they are aware of the changes. She said IFC supported the decision.

Courtesy of National Panhellenic Conference

Courtesy of National Panhellenic Conference

“Although I think it is going to be a change, we have support from the fraternities, at least coming from the presidents, and they’re going to do their best to get their members on board as well,” Burnett said.

Fraternities will still have the option to host open parties with sororities. Burnett said Panhel’s policy simply means they cannot be “paired” with a fraternity more than five times a week.

IFC President Kyle Durics said the new social policy does not have negative implications for fraternities.

“The kids (who) don’t want to be at parties won’t have to be there,” Durics said.

He said IFC is hoping for fraternities to host events from Thursday to Saturday. The council also hopes Epic Party Weekends will become more frequent by the time the spring semester concludes.

To clarify to confused members of his chapter, Durics said, “Basically if you have 10 friends in a sorority that don’t have tests, but it’s a Wednesday, they can still go out, but they’re not required to.”

Working together and supporting one another, IFC and Panhel hope to combat the pressures Greek members feel to attend social events, respond effectively to the responses in their surveys and promote more inclusivity on campus.

“We think it’s going to be a very positive thing for our community, so Panhel and IFC are behind it,” Burnett said.

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1 Comment

  1. Brilliant. These social events are already “unofficial” and not registered with the university. Most are illegal since they focus around violating firecodes in off campus residences and distribution of alcohol to minors. This basically says “you’re gonna get in trouble if you do more than 3 illegal things a week.” This is a rule about something that is already against the rules. Forcing members to go to unregistered parties already violates rules from the school and national organizations. This says you can break the rule but only three times a week not four.

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