This year the accreditation process has changed for Lehigh’s fraternities and sororities.
Accreditation is the annual review process every Greek chapter goes though. It gives organizations an opportunity to showcase their growth and achievements from the past year to a panel students, faculty and alumni. This year’s accreditation schedule runs from April 6 to April 23.
Each chapter is ranked on how well the sorority or fraternity performed, using four or five categories to help the panel reach its decision. The metrics used in the old system were intellectual development, leadership development, community development, organizational development, and facilities management. The final metric only applied to chapters that had Lehigh-owned facilities on campus.
The old system awarded chapters a rating of gold, silver, bronze, poor and unacceptable. If the sorority or fraternity was rated “poor” twice in a row, it would lose its recognition in the Lehigh Greek system.
In the previous system, there was no true incentive to do well beyond a plaque that was awarded to gold and silver chapters. Additionally, there was little distinctions between each ranking, making it difficult for the panel to determine whether a chapter met the criteria for gold or silver.
“If you were ranked gold, you would get a little trophy,” said Kyle Durics, the president of the Interfraternity Council. “People would ask, ‘Why try so hard when you could get a bronze ranking, not try as hard, still pass and have no repercussions?'”
With the new system, the rankings are accredited with excellence, accredited, unaccredited and unacceptable.
The new process is defined in more set terms: a chapter is either accredited or not. There is also incentive to put in the effort to receive “accredited with excellence.”
If a chapter is “accredited with excellence,” its members have the option to receive $250 or get a “bye” with their accreditation presentation for the following year. Durics thinks the prizes will motivate chapters to hold the “accredited with excellence” ranking.
Similar to the poor ranking, if a chapter is unaccredited two years in a row, the school will not recognize the chapter.
If the chapter receives the “unacceptable” ranking, they will be removed from Lehigh’s campus immediately.
A majority of the Greek chapters on campus pushed for changes to the accreditation system. The Office of Fraternity and Sorority Affairs takes suggestions yearly to improve the process, and this year, the chapters wanted more distinction between the rankings.
Howard Foltz, ’77, a Kappa Sigma alum, has been involved in Lehigh’s accreditation process for years. He wrote in an email that he thinks the accreditation changes will have a positive impact on the Greek community.
“We expect our chapters to grow and improve and to contribute to their member’s educational experience and to the campus and community at large,” Foltz wrote.
Durics and Foltz both have high hopes for the accreditation system and think it will be effective in years to come.