Editorial: Last Friday night


It’s Friday night.

After a long week of grueling classes and meetings, Lehigh’s campus is ready to take the edge off. However, there are multiple ways this happens:

Option No. 1 – Frat party. Go down to East Fifth Street and pack yourself into a basement full of people. Rage hard tonight so you don’t remember it come tomorrow.

Option No. 2 – Bars. Whether you’re 21 or older, or you happen to have a dependable fake ID, you hit the town to do some drinking of a more social variety. You’re going to have to pay for it, but at least you can see the person five feet in front of you.

Option No. 3 – Gatsby Gala. Invest $12 (or $15 if you waited) in a classy night with your peers in the University Center. Drink for free if you’re 21 and older, but you do so in front of police officers.

On some campuses, opportunity No. 3 might win out.

But not at Lehigh. The absolute domination of Greek life and alcohol consumption create a large barrier for any organization to put on an event that can bring students from all across campus together.

Unless the administration finds a way to force Greek chapters to show representation at on-campus events such as the Gatsby Gala, attendance is an issue.

This year, the Panhellenic and Interfraternity councils agreed on a solution to boost the turnout. All parties and other social events on Friday night were to be canceled for the duration of the gala.

With nothing going on in the Greek community, maybe the void would be filled by a movement toward the school-sanctioned event. The result was a final attendance count of 280.

That number represents a little over five percent of Lehigh’s undergraduate population. Compared to last year’s gala of over 700, it seems even smaller. Lehigh has tried so hard to push inclusivity, often to no avail.

It would be easy for the school and its many organizations and clubs to resign to the separation between Greeks and non-Greeks. An admirable amount of resiliency has been shown, but beyond that it is time to get smarter about attracting students to campus-wide events.

So what can be done to fix this?

For starters, a price increase from last year’s $5 gala tickets did not help. With the amount of funds the university has at its disposal, it should allocate more money to organizations like Student Senate that are working hard to create an inclusive campus.

However, the underlying issue is that events regulated by the university carry a burden. Simply put, it’s not cool to go to a party run by Lehigh.

So right off the bat, there is a stigma associated with any social situation that is set up through the university. To overcome the stigma, there needs to be a compelling reason to believe the event can present unique opportunities.

Although it may seem like a fun idea, the Gatsby Gala is not all that different from a fraternity or sorority date party, at which members dress up in formal attire for a special night. On top of that, instead of the one drink per hour rule that Lehigh instates, date party goers drink freely.

There is an example of success that can and should be drawn from for inspiration in event planning: concerts.

Some of the most unifying events on Lehigh’s campus have been run by University Productions at which headliners such as Big Sean and Louis the Child have performed. The common denominator between different groups on campus to come together is enjoyment of the music.

That is how to bring students together: by finding their common interests.

It is a fundamental social principle — individuals will be more inclined to socialize when they have shared interests. That principle remains in effect despite the other complex factors surrounding life at Lehigh.

While the university and Student Senate should be proud of events such as the Gatsby Gala, to truly capture the attention of the entire student body, they need to be willing to take more risks.

Try something that might not have been done before, and maybe it will become a tradition. What’s the worst that could happen?

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  1. I would guess that a huge reason that people did not attend the Gatsby Gala was that Senate scheduled it at the same time as the Raise Your Voice concert, celebrating 45 years of women at Lehigh. It was a collaboration between the women’s center, Dolce, the Dept. of Theatre and the Dept. of Music. and I think that Senate could do better in scheduling their events around the clubs and organizations they claim to want to support.

  2. The Brown and White’s patronizing attitude towards Greek life and drinking is getting old and tiring. It sometimes makes me wonder how tuned in to the campus the B&W writers are. It’s a stark reminder of the dissonance between the population and the press not only at Lehigh but nationally.

  3. The real brown and white on

    Seriously, don’t you guys have anything better to do than write unhelpful opinion pieces. Give me some information about the cool things going on on-campus. Why didn’t you advertise the gala. This paper makes me want to vomit and doesn’t represent a single student here on this campus.

  4. Some of the other campus events Student Senate has put on have been extremely successful at facilitating greater campus community (like the last tailgate cosponsored with UP, IFC, & PanHel) and I’m wondering why those successes aren’t celebrated to the measure they are torn down.

    As another reviewer mentioned the patronizing attitude towards Greek life and drinking is getting old. Why not help generate ideas for an inclusive event to pitch to an organization like Student Senate or University Productions to put on?

    It is easy to critique an event after the fact, but incredibly difficult to put one on. The people that worked to organize the Gatsby Gala worked tirelessly for months to get the funding, permits, etc. to allow the gala and other events around campus to occur. Some small slip ups as Adrienne mentioned, scheduling on the date of another event, are bound to happen when students are trying to put on an event of this scale.

    I challenge the writers and nay-sayers to put on their own event in order to truly understand the work and risks involved in putting on events of this scale.

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