Edit desk: Inequity in Greek life

76

Madison Schmitt

On Dec. 8, after months of waiting, the night of the scavenger hunt finally arrived for the juniors of Alpha Chi Omega. But this was no scavenger hunt like it had been years prior — it was far more precarious, surpassing the region of juvenile fun into one of inappropriate, proscribed activity.

The juniors pre-gamed on the third floor of the chapter house as they always did, decked out in the theme assigned to them and prepared for what was supposed to be the wildest night of the semester. This was a veteran tradition for the sorority. No one expected this wild night would be the last one they’d ever share as sisters of AXO.

Once the scavenger hunt list got into the hands of not only the dean but also AXO Nationals, it was game over.

A suspension from formal recruitment — resulting in no new pledge class — was a bad enough punishment, but things only escalated when we realized our party schedule was shattered.

When the majority of juniors were told they had to disaffiliate from the sorority and possibly move out of the house before the end of the semester, the reality and unfairness of the situation sunk in.

A chapter so many girls join for the intense sisterhood it elicits has turned into a place where nobody feels they belong.

The night of the scavenger hunt — a night I didn’t even participate in — has changed the course of my time in college for the worse.

On the other side, after months of waiting, the start of bonding arrived for the brothers of almost every fraternity at Lehigh at the beginning of February. But this is not bonding that is accepted and encouraged by the school — it’s far more dangerous, surpassing the region of brotherhood into one of humiliation, harassment and physical and emotional abuse.

Every year brings new pledge classes, and with them comes seemingly endless hazing, though it usually comes to a close before the culmination of the second semester. While I am not saying I support hazing, I do support activities that turn an apprehensive group of strangers into a close-knit circle of friends.

But these are not the types of activities that occur on our campus.

Although I, like most girls, do not know the extent of the activities forced upon male pledges during hazing, everyone bears witness to the ways it changes them. I have seen my friends come to class with bruises or scrapes on their faces. I have watched as their personalities undergo distinct changes.

Last year, it reached an extreme extent when numerous fraternities were placed on suspension, forcing them either to cease these types of activities entirely or struggle to keep it low-key.

The point is fraternities haze, and they haze a lot.

And yes, the scavenger hunt was an act of carelessness and stupidity.

But, was anyone injured? Was anyone forced to engage in something they felt uncomfortable doing? No.

I know the answers to these questions not because I participated in the activities, but because I know the juniors in my sorority. I know that they’re suffering an unbelievable amount of pain knowing that they put their beloved chapter in this position. I know that they’re afraid of what could possibly happen to them next and they feel guilty for dragging their families into the situation’s legal issues.

AXO deserves a punishment for that one regretful night, but the consequences our members are facing, along with the lack of support we’ve received throughout the investigation, are unjustified.

Fraternities consistently engage in more heinous activities yet receive comparatively mild punishments.

Sure, a fraternity might get suspended or even kicked off, but a short time later, the brothers are merging with another fraternity and administering the same practices that got them kicked off in the first place.

Look at Cornell University, a prestigious institution with a large emphasis on Greek life, similar to Lehigh. Cornell’s chapter of Zeta Beta Tau fraternity has recently been disciplined after holding a sex contest called a “pig roast,” referencing the weight of women the brothers slept with. Brothers received points for sleeping with heavy women— the heavier she was, the more points earned.

This disgusting, misogynistic act, however, was not cause enough to make the fraternity illegitimate.

Don’t get me wrong, I think Greek life is an incredible addition to any university. It is an institution that fosters togetherness and philanthropic opportunities and has the potential to leave a positive, permanent mark on those who experience it.

That being said, I believe that Greek life is inequitable to sororities. It seems to me that while fraternities receive no more than a slap on the wrist for their wrongdoings, a single mistake made by a sorority yields eternal consequences.

As a supporter of Greek life, I hope to see a change in the way it is administered before I graduate.

For now, I’m grateful to have 83 sisters — even if we’re no longer allowed to share the letters.

Madison Schmitt, ’20, is an assistant sports editor for The Brown and White. She can be reached [email protected]

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76 Comments

  1. I’m pretty sure if the school found a document from a fraternity that said they would give points for blowing guys or doing cocaine in the library they’d be kicked off in a heartbeat

  2. AXO’s actions are unjustified? Their scavenger list contained a multitude of felonies! How entitled do you have to be? If a fraternity was caught doing anything similar, they’d receive equal punishments. Just because a fraternity hasn’t gotten in trouble, even though many have while even taking on all the risks for events with sororities like AXO, doesn’t mean that the outcome would be different just because they’re a fraternity. Stop acting like victims, when it was your sorority that conspired to and committed these horrible acts.

  3. Nick Thevanayagam on

    I don’t know how you can call fraternities misogynistic when the AXO list had one of thing items holding male genitals while urinating lol

  4. Highly doubtful the scavenger hunt was different from prior years.. but even if it was, I’m sure other sisters were aware of what was going on and proceeded to allow it to happen. I feel as though the issue at hand is being diverted toward the author’s assumptions about fraternity life. Just because your sorority got in trouble does not justify the right to glorify sororities and criticize fraternities. Yes there is an issue with fraternities merging at Lehigh after they have been kicked off, which is wrong, but sororities can also attempt to do the same. I do not believe anyone has tried. I personally see hazing being just as relevant in sororities as in fraternities. They are very different, but equally traditional. One cannot simply draw conclusions from seeing scratches and bruises on peers. Perhaps these men fell playing basketball or tripped while being drunk. Maybe they were actually involved in a hazing event, who knows? I am not trying to say fraternities are perfect or better than sororities, but do not shed light on incidents of fraternal malpractice when there are sororities doing similar things. Ultimately AXO must face the consequences of their actions and learn to accept that times have changed and what used to be regarded as OK is no longer acceptable. As an advocate for Greek life, I hope the remaining fraternities and sororities act with more care and continue to prosper on campus.

  5. It is called accountability on

    Seems as if you are lacking accountability. Last time I checked rumors were justified to kick fraternities off the hill, and I can almost guarantee anonymous reports that were just sent in with no substance. You got caught with physical evidence. Thats not even mentioning AXO are the ones that let that document get into the wrong hands. It is on nobody but yourself, everyone is on an equal playing field. One sorority gets in a lot of trouble in the past 4 years, compared to 3 fraternities being kicked off in the past 5 years and you want to say things are unfair.

  6. My heart goes out to AXO, even more so now that one of their own has publicized and drawn attention to a regrettable and unfortunate transgression. Instead of helping your sisters move on and and go forward from this event, you betrayed them. Furthermore, you betrayed the young men affiliated with fraternities that you undoubtably called friends. In this article, you group together all fraternities as having promoted events that endanger the welfare of their new members. This may occur here at Lehigh but passing off baseless rumors as fact through a moderately respected media outlet adds no value to the Lehigh community. This article reads not as journalism but as an incoherent rant from a sister of a sorority that is facing trying times. There is genuine inequality for women in this world and probably at Lehigh. However, this is not the case here. Instead of taking responsibility you elected to shift the burden to young men. I have heard rumors (from credible sources) about the night this event occurred. In order to avoid betraying the confidence of the young women you call sisters, I will elect not to use any of that information in my response to you. This, a courtesy you have not extended in your useless attempt to victimize yourself and blame others. I am not saying I am above the actions that your sisters participated in, I am saying that if my friends and I were caught I would understand that there would be serious reprocusions.

  7. Probably one of the most poorly written articles I’ve read. One of the worst things about this is the lack of thought into the consequences that will arise from your words. Admitting to your upperclassmen drinking alcohol in your sorority house, when all National Panhellenic sororities are considered “dry” could be even more detrimental to your current standing with the school as well as pose a serious issue for those upperclassmen to whom the article references. Shame on you.

  8. An article that takes actions performed by women that degrade women, and makes men the wrongdoers. Good Lord take some accountability and stop trying to divert the blame for YOUR sorority’s actions onto other people!!

  9. Yes, it’s an injustice that sorority women are held to a higher standard than fraternity men. This is nothing more than a materialized experience of a greater social issue: mens’ mistakes are tolerated under a “boys will be boys” narrative, while women exist under extremely critical scrutiny.

    However, I can’t ignore the fact that beyond your general point, the delivery and specific argument of this article is pretty concerning. The piece is borderline nonsensical. You used the wrong terms for things, didn’t organize your writing, and didn’t have a lead or any other formal journalistic elements, which screams hardcore bias and points to an irrational thought process. On top of your logistical mistakes (that make for a less than powerful delivery), you don’t delve into any deeper issues or connect this to other experiences outside of your own. Your argument is personal and sounds more like a long-winded complaint. There are systemic problems in our society that led to this situation. Being a relatively privileged, white woman, you did not do your journalistic due diligence or take the time to educate yourself on what a persuasive piece of writing looks like.

    Also, AXO is a sorority of women, not “girls.” Would a man describe his fraternity as a group of “boys”? Your language is feeding into the problem you’re complaining about.

    Please educate yourself and consider the greater implications of your experience and how it might affect others before publishing an article next time.

  10. LooseLipsSinkShips on

    Two things LU Greeks:

    1. Frats take the heat from parties hosting srats all the time so seeing an srat receive similar treatment should allow for houses to all understand that we have a common issue. Unfortunately in this article AXO gets in trouble and an apologist says frats are worse for physically hazing so AXO should not be in trouble (hopefully writer is not studying logic or debate)…but I digress from the shared problem.

    2. Most of what is getting our houses in trouble is taking our actions public, bragging, or sharing with others…just like the pong table picture in TFM years ago. If we do things that are over the top let’s keep it discrete or secret. Let’s not cut our own throats by sharing everything on smart phones.

    • I think we should turn “Loose Lips Sink Ships” into a Snapchat filter that covers Lehigh’s entire campus and maybe then people will remember not to be dumb

  11. Take a look at my fraternity’s social dues and my off campus living conditions, then talk to me about equality between fraternities and sororities

    • So true. It goes further than that; taking risk for parties, organizing rides so that everyone is safe, privinding the location and clean up.

    • 100%

      I actually went onto OFSA’s website, where they post each fraternity and sorority’s cost of membership, and take a wild guess as to which sorority was among the two chapters that failed to report costs of membership information to OFSA….

      • Chad/Brads's friend Thad on

        How is this unacceptable? The fraternities pay for citations, gas money for safe rides, do all the clean up/set up and have to live in these places after everyone trashes them. Things get stolen all the time. An immense amount of time and planning goes into all of this. You would only truly get the “equality” you wanted if srats started doing this as well.

  12. First of all, 9 minute read time?? Really?

    Second, does nobody review an article after it’s submitted to be published? It would be one thing if this was satirical, but I truly think this girl believes what she is saying. I am not one to sit behind a computer screen and type my criticism away, but this is pathetic. How could you honestly try to convince the Lehigh community that AXO is innocent and fraternities participate in much worse events like hazing. It amazes me that AXO wasn’t kicked off after that list got out…

    Its good to know this $65k/year school has a high quality newspaper…

    • I could be wrong, but I think the difference here is that this was not a piece commissioned by The Brown and White, but rather was a letter to the editor, so I’m not sure what sort of editorial control the paper has. I really hope the editorial board tried to talk her out of publishing this though. I agree with you that this is pathetic.

  13. This absolutely disgusts me. Even more so than the actual road rally. I️ am speechless that you are are trying to claim that your sorority is being victimized due to a misogynistic Greek community. I️ don’t disagree with you that there are so many injustices in this system. But do you ever wonder why we have a misogynist system?

    Well, it’s because of B.S. like this. Encouraging your sisters to participate in these sexual acts that degrade women goes against everything a sorority should stand for. The acts that your chapter encouraged shows that you are the problem, NOT THE VICTIM.

    As a fellow sorority women ~not girl~ I️ hope you learn to hold yourself and your sisters to a higher standard.

  14. Change your Major on

    Juvenile fun? I’m not sure I would label doing hard drugs and participating in vile sexual acts as juvenile fun. Also, aren’t these women all 19-20 years old? This does not constitute adult behavior. Not only was this editorial misguided in it’s foundational idea, but it was also written extremely poorly.

    • You’re not the only one. I’m calling the school today to complain about this article. It’s ridiculous that the brown and White published this trash

  15. Oh honey, please. “AXO deserves a punishment for that one regretful night, but the consequences our members are facing, along with the lack of support we’ve received throughout the investigation, are unjustified.” What support did you expect? The juniors and likely the seniors who participated in this “tradition” previously have disgraced the good name of an honorable sorority, its chapters and alumnae across the country, in addition to women everywhere. And your Letter to the Editor is not helpful unless you intended to hasten the demise (closure) of your chapter.

  16. This is laughable. As if AXO cares enough about the values of the Greek community being upheld to not have social events with the fraternities you mentioned were kicked off and merged to avoid their punishments. “But… my social schedule! :(“

    This article reeks of privilege and failure to take accountability for something that, despite your delusional claims, would get ANY Greek organization at Lehigh kicked off. It reflects badly on you, your sisters, Greek life, and Lehigh.

  17. Okay everybody. Take a deep breath please. If only administration and alums knew what even happened at a simple date party or Tuesday night out. Lets be real for a second, yes AXO did mess up and did do things where people did some really indecent and inappropriate things.
    HOWEVER, no one was harmed during these events and no one was actually forced into doing these things. These scavenger hunts are also current in high schools and these “games” are a product of our generation.
    Should there be consequences, yes. Is Lehigh trying to shrink Greek Life, yes.
    These girls have been put through enough.
    LEAVE the poor author alone.
    YOU have some self respect and do not go after some 20 year old girl going through a rough time.
    Also to the rest of Greek Life commenting on here, do not put yourself at higher standard. ALL greek life has participated in events such as these.

    • You know “no one was harmed?”, Right. Because you can “see” the effects of humiliating and degrading behavior that plagues its victims long after your little road rally. This is exactly the kind of disconnect that makes excuses for “harmless” hazing. You don’t get it. The author doesn’t get it. And if you and the author are representative of AXO, you or your chapter(s) need to go.

    • PLEASE tell me you’re in AXO. These girls have been through enough?! They haven’t even been through an investigation, let alone a hearing or sanctions. There haven’t been ANY consequences. If you think Madison getting dragged out on The Brown and White comments is unfair, she shouldn’t have published this ridiculous editorial that reeks of privilege, immaturity, and any lack of responsibility.

      All you privileged sorority girls do when you’re confronted with the possibility of having to take some ownership is to deflect blame, whether it’s on the administration that’s trying to shrink Greek life, fraternities that do worse things than road rally, on the LUPD and (until recently) Chief Shupp for shutting down parties. Get a freaking GRIP and take some responsibility.

      • Well, looks like there is a conduct update on the Lehigh Greeks blog; hearing set for March 5 AND the update references Ms. Schmitt’s opinion piece for one of the charges:

        Respect for Self A1 (Unauthorized Consumption, Distribution, or Possession)
        The unauthorized or illegal consumption, distribution, or possession of alcohol.

        Specifically: A member of Alpha Chi Omega admitted in an editorial in the Brown and White that juniors were drinking the chapter house. Not every member of the junior class were over 21.

  18. Robert Davenport on

    “I do support activities that turn an apprehensive group of strangers into a close-knit circle of friends.” Try activities where strangers work together to accomplish something beneficial that builds character, like COACH, not those activities that bind strangers to each other to keep secrets that would be damaging if outsiders found out.

    In addition to selfishness, the lack of respect, for others and self, exhibited by a number of intelligent students at Lehigh is disturbing. That it is all too common in contemporary society is no excuse.

    Thanks for the letter. Everybody on campus may know most of the details but most alumni are in the dark. University officials are not going to circulate news items that reflect poorly on Lehigh. The Brown and White has reported significant news that had previously been hidden from my sight.

  19. You refer to Cornell’s Zeta Beta Tau chapter’s behavior as “disgusting” and “misogynistic” yet seem to brush off your own as “careless” and “stupid”. From what I’m seeing in the comments, the scavenger hunt was more than just “careless and stupid”. How about vile. Obscene. Degrading. The bias in this article is blatantly obvious.

    And then you proceed to deflect the criticism your chapter received to fraternities while you generalized them as an organization of physical and emotional abusers. It would have been nice if you could have mentioned a little about the hazing traditions that sororities practice, which are extremely prevalent at schools across the US, and I’m sure at Lehigh too. All of this made this article an extremely disappointing read for me.

    I 100% agree with you that Greek Life at Lehigh, as well as at schools across the nation, has some serious issues that need to be fixed. But blaming others for your own problems isn’t going to help correct any of the numerous flaws within the Greek system. In order to solve these problems, Greek life needs to come together and work as a whole.

  20. NO ONE CARES AXO on

    Not sure doing coke and slamming guys in public is “harmless fun.” B&W if you want to try and be a credible news source take this ridiculous piece of garbage down

  21. It is despicable to defend the actions of AXO, and naive to suggest fraternities are not punished to an extent that is deserving of their actions. Delta Phi was given a swift kick off the hill for a pledge manual found in its library (not distributed and copied by its members) detailing pledging from several years in the past. Its contents were not nearly as lewd as this ‘scavenger hunt’. Clearly, the author’s idea of Greek life tradition must not extend beyond a few semesters. AXO’s punishment is not indicative of inequality between Greek men and women, but it is representative of how accountability is upheld by the university and nationals. Judging by the author’s arguments, AXO’s ‘new member education’ has fallen short on accountability, responsibility, and humility. B&W leadership, please get remove this steaming pile of garbage that the authors believes to be a sound defense. It is an embarrassment to the University in more ways than one.

  22. This article is an absolute disgrace. I feel sorry that the author of this actually has this viewpoint. Fraternity hazing itself is disgusting and immoral, yes. But, so is a sorority scavenger hunt that enlists its ~sisters~ to “Ski pole two dicks at once.” Claiming that your punishment is an example of active sexism is an embarrassing display of ignorance and privilege. Women are facing real struggles, ones more detrimental than not being able to live in your sorority mansion after your “sisterhood” make a game out of objectifying its members. I’m glad the brown and white kept this article up so that the writer of this piece of garbage can read the endless amount of negative feedback this is receiving, and I hope she takes it to heart. Grow up.

    • Thank you for sharing this view. It’s an important one. Let’s talk about all the ways sexism works to oppress all different types of women, not wealthy white sorority women.

  23. Robert Davenport on

    Seems like most people are either ashamed that this situation exists or embarrassed that it has been exposed. A minority seems to be glad that they were not involved. Does Lehigh need a mandatory course on building character? I hope the Gryphons continue to be positive role models for students as was Jim Underkoffler for Richards A-2 residents.

  24. I agree with RD & hope we focus forward – I’m sure lessons learned – let’s stop pointing fingers – strength is in unity – be better together Lehigh !

  25. Are you for real? on

    What you did was use men as sexual objects, so yes you should get in trouble, and no, if any frat would be caught doing this they would be kicked off immediately.

    I agree there is inequality in the Greek System, but it is in favor of women.

  26. whites throwing other whites under the bus in an attempt to gain more white privilege than they already have is so white privilege idk what else could top this clown of a joke

  27. Hahah every single one of you are hypocrites hiding behind a computer screen. I had no idea that AXO were the only ones in Greek life that did drugs. Seriously climb out from under the rock you currently reside under and open your eyes. This school brushes over a lot of things and if you don’t see that you clearly aren’t in Greek life and therefore have no basis for argument. It’s ridiculous she’s getting berated as much as she is for voicing her OPINION. Read the top of the page seriously, it says it right there. I completely forgot that people weren’t allowed to express their opinions online. How about instead of leaving some two page comment on a school newspaper you go do something productive with your life. Or instead at least go say it to her face, but oh wait you’re too scared to. Grow up people.

    • If you’re not in Greek life, you’re not allowed to express your opinion?! “I completely forgot that people weren’t allowed to express their opinions online.”

      This isn’t about AXO using drugs. A lot of people use drugs. It’s about AXO, as an organization, endorsing and awarding points for their members performing sex acts that any other Lehigh fraternity would be dissolved for doing, and rightfully so. We are doing something productive. We are trying to educate you, Madison, and the rest of your sorority about how to take some ownership for your mistakes. I cannot wait for your disciplinary hearing/accreditation presentation.

  28. As a Lehigh Parent, Lehigh Alumni and a Business Executive I both understand and have lived through similar issues and this “Editorial” is disturbing on so many levels.

    As fallible human beings, all of us have an impulsive response to minimize or avoid taking responsibility for actions that are certainly harmful, immoral and just plain stupid. Maturity can allow us to look beyond impulses and take responsibility for our actions. Aside from an erroneous claim that AXO was somehow unfairly treated, there is an implicit self- justification to justify and rationalize the poor decision making. A simple “act of carelessness”? Really? There is a mindless repetitive idiom about about not doing something risky unless you are willing and able to accept the full weight of the consequences…”If you can’t do the time, don’t do the crime”.

    So Sorry your “Party schedule was shattered”, but being the aforementioned Lehigh Parent and Alumnus I am disturbed that your sorority exists in any form following this debacle. As a business executive, my advice would be to retract your name from this ‘editorial’ as it certainly will not be interpreted favorably by potential employers.

    Despite your misguided claims and broad hearsay suggesting unequal comparative treatment, I have the benefit of more years in the Lehigh community and it is very clear that AXO received a very lenient outcome and any fraternity finding themselves in a similar situation would face a very rapid resolution involving expulsion from campus.

    There is also an undercurrent of hearsay allegations that Lehigh fraternities do worse things and just have not been caught. Everyone else is committing more unethical, immoral and potentially criminal acts so it is OK? We are also speaking about Lehigh, and what is the relevance of a fraternity disciplinary action at another university where the full facts are not completely known? Is that somehow logically relevant to our University or your personal ethical compass?

    Greek life was an incredible part of my own Lehigh experience, but as an older and wiser member of the Lehigh community I express my personal disappointment with the complete lack of remorse expressed and the thought that AXO continues to exist in any form on our campus.

  29. Steve - Also an Alum on

    Disappointing to see Lehigh students and alums coming out against each other. Some nasty, unproductive comments being made. No doubt mistakes were made and people are regretful.The person who wrote the article I’m sure has gotten the message that her message is off, Lehigh is such a great school. Let’s take this as a learning and stop the verbal bashing. A lot of really bad things happening in the national news lately, Let’s make a positive out of this and come together as an even stronger Lehigh.

    • Robert Davenport on

      STEVE – ALSO AN ALUM on FEBRUARY 19, 2018 9:24 PM: I agree in stopping verbal bashing but I think most of the posts are indicating well founded outrage at the actions of AXO. A secondary thought is the inappropriateness/idiocy of portions of Ms. Schmitts opinion letter. REALITY on FEBRUARY 19, 2018 4:00 PM indicates to me that this is not an isolated situation but may be a more pervasive problem. REALITY writes: “Hahah every single one of you are hypocrites hiding behind a computer screen. I had no idea that AXO were the only ones in Greek life that did drugs. Seriously climb out from under the rock you currently reside under and open your eyes. This school brushes over a lot of things and if you don’t see that you clearly aren’t in Greek life and therefore have no basis for argument. It’s ridiculous she’s getting berated as much as she is for voicing her OPINION. Read the top of the page seriously, it says it right there. I completely forgot that people weren’t allowed to express their opinions online. How about instead of leaving some two page comment on a school newspaper you go do something productive with your life. Or instead at least go say it to her face, but oh wait you’re too scared to. Grow up people.” I am assuming that Reality is a student making a truthful post. Apparently AXO is not the only organization involved in actions that disturb alumni. I find Reality’s opinions slightly off base. His final sentence is a wise rejoinder, both he and Ms. Schmitt need to heed it.

      LEHIGH ALUM on FEBRUARY 19, 2018 5:48 PM writes: “As a Lehigh Parent, Lehigh Alumni and a Business Executive I both understand and have lived through similar issues and this “Editorial” is disturbing on so many levels.”: This explains the concern of many of the posters. This post also criticizes the opinions of Ms. Schmitt but not her personally. It seems to me that disagreeing with someone is now considered by some to be rude. I think not. I think many people would be pleased to talk personally to Ms. Schmitt in a reasonable manner but parents and alumni usually don’t live near campus and/or would not want to intrude on her personal life. “How about instead of leaving some two page comment on a school newspaper you go do something productive with your life.” As information for those who have not begun a career, there is a thing called retirement.

      The ideas of young people have great potential for accomplishing great things. Pursue the worthwhile things in life rather than making excuses for the worthless ones.

  30. Exactly what is the status of the investigation by the University? And why isn’t the intrepid B&W reporting on that? (Closing on 10 weeks, albeit with winter break). The Lehigh Greeks blog’s Conduct Update seemed to indicate some individuals were reluctant witnesses as part of its EEOC compliance investigation. And, the author seems to suggest some sanctions have been handed down (some members to vacate the chapter house). So, what’s the story B&W ?

    • I’m not affiliated with AXO so there may be details to which I’m not privy, but this is what we know:

      This investigation is being run by Karen Salvemini, Lehigh’s Equal Opportunity Compliance Coordinator & Title IX Coordinator in the Office of the General Counsel. These investigations take a long time. For example, it was reported on November 7, 2017 that a faculty member was suspended for sexual misconduct and that investigation did not conclude until about January 16, 2018. AXO was suspended on December 12, 2017 and then the students went home for winter break and now many of them, especially the juniors, are abroad.

      Right now, the Office of Student Conduct and Community Expectations and the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Affairs are not taking charge, nor have any charges been referred to the University Committee on Discipline, as would be the case with a typically conduct violation by a Greek chapter. That is also why there aren’t updates on the Lehigh Greeks blog. Additionally, the Alpha Chi Omega national sorority is likely playing a role in evaluating the status of the sorority and some or all of its members. Finally, there may be a concurrent criminal investigation going on, which is another reason details may be scarce.

  31. Based on the information gleaned from the comments, I would imagine that this story is going to get some traction now. I expect it to appear in LehighValleyLive, and the Morning Call, followed by national, even global, coverage. If true, the items on the scavenger hunt list are appalling and the women of this sorority are hopefully not representative of most Lehigh students. If I were a job recruiter, I might have some questions for any member of this chapter of AXO. The “everybody is doing it” defense rings hollow.

  32. Amy Charles '89 on

    Okay. I’m really trying hard to understand both whatever it is this jumble of yours is saying, Madison, and why you’re saying it. As far as I can make out, your beef is that other people do worse things and get lighter punishments. And you’re kinda-sorta defending whatever hazing garbage you people put together, criminal or not, as a bonding experience through hardship or…hijinks? Pushing your new friends to grab dicks, which aren’t exactly in short supply, if they want to stay friends with you? I’m missing something here.

    You’ll notice you’re also getting slammed by guy after guy here, not just current frat dudes but old-guy frat dudes, which should tell you something about the wondrousness of the Greek world and the mentality informing it. Look how many of them are here to savage you and call you sexually degraded. The least criticism of them, and off they go telling you how worthless and stupid you are. They’ll operate that way the rest of their lives, bashing the hell out of women the minute they feel threatened, which will be a lot of the time — and going straight for some analogue of “whore”, because they can’t think of any worse words than those that imply women control their own sexuality, for themselves. (The problem, boys, is not the dick-grabbing; the problem is the question of whether the grabbers and grabbees *actually want* to do this, rather than being pressured into it or assaulted.)

    You want a bonding experience? You already got one. You were born with one. You’re about to go out into the world and watch the world, including many of those guys up there, kneecap your career and your prospects while keeping goodies to themselves. Even now, you’re going to be told you have to choose between motherhood and a serious career, and deal with men in positions of authority (and women!) who’re sure you can’t do both well, and who’ll be anxious to read any weakness as fundamental to you. You’re going to be outraged when you find out what you’re getting paid and how you’re getting promoted relative to others. You’re going to struggle to raise children in a society run by guys who want to play hero, want you to be captive audience to that, and want to make sure that good, affordable childcare and education aren’t readily available to your kids. You’re going to be pushed to blame yourself for these situations, too: obviously it’s you who’s not managing well, isn’t it? And you’d better manage well, because god forbid you should get divorced and have to try to collect the property and child support you and your kids are due. And on top of all that you’re going to have boy wonders like the ones upthread telling you that you’re worthless once you’re past 30 or so. It’s not possible to improve on the Amy Schumer “Last F**kable Day” sketch, so I’ll leave it at that. After that though old and worthless, you’ll still be expected to be eternal nurse and mother to every other person in your life. For free, while doing the rest of your work. You’ll be taught to feel guilty if you refuse, and you’ll spend a lot of time with friends assuring each other that you’re doing all you can and shouldn’t feel guilty, but you’ll be shocked if someone actually doesn’t feel guilty.

    You’re going to devote a tremendous amount of time and your own energy filling in these gaps that have been deliberately left, and dealing with the pro-forma takedowns that exist just to keep guys like the ones up there in comfortable spots — and who’s going to help you in that? Who’ll have your back?

    Other women. Time and time again, other women. Women friends, women lawyers, women legislators, women judges, women bosses, women relatives. For the rest of your life. They will save you time and again. Ask your mom and grandma why their friendships with other women are so strong; ask them what they went through together. What they still go through together.

    What I’m saying is that you don’t have to hasten or invent hardship to build sisterhood, girl. It’s right there waiting for you. It’s sitting there upthread. You’ll have more bonding opportunity with women than you want. Meanwhile, lay off the criminal acts, and stop pushing other people to do criminal and humiliating things. Don’t engage in this stupid macho bull**** with making people prove they’re tight with you via some bull**** ceremony. If you can’t recognize who your sisters are without it, work on that.

  33. Chad/Brads's friend Thad on

    Do you not recall last year when one of our presidents(of a merged fraternity you continued to have events with) had to drop out of school after getting in legal trouble which involved thousands of dollars in fines?

  34. This is a 19 year old girl that you are speaking so negatively upon right now. Please, thinking about the things you are typing.

    • Amy Charles '89 on

      You’re right and I apologize for the references to criminal behavior — I see now that there’s nothing explicit in Madison’s column about crimes, just undefined legal issues that families have been dragged into.

      On the other hand, Ella, if I had a 19-year-old involved in things serious enough to warrant disciplinary action, lawyers, and — if one of the commenters up there is correct — a Title IX office investigation, and then she wrote a piece like this, I think I’d be shouting for days. Days. I think this would be the end of any $65K-a-year school, too.

      I’m not hearing anything in this editorial hinting at serious responsibility, or recognition that a structure that encourages this kind of behavior maybe has serious problems all the way through, or that maybe this isn’t such a good thing to be involved with or — depending on what actually went on — good *people* to be involved with, and maybe she’ll do better now. Instead I’m hearing the kinds of things you hear from people who are busy deflecting responsibility, plus continued deep involvement in a fraternity-dominated social world that, as seen above, is happy to slam her like crazy for suggesting anything’s amiss at fraternities, and dive right into criticizing her sexuality. (Apparently this trouble has also woken her to the idea that the Greek system might involve misogyny? Just now? Okay, that’s a step — but why is she still hanging around it, then, and so devoted to it? <- that's a serious question. It's possible to have really great friends, a really strong group, without…this. Which is a theme, now that I think of it, that I really haven't heard strongly out of Lehigh ever. It's almost as though certain organizations' members might feel threatened by the idea.)

      I've seen plenty of similar messages in B&W pieces and comments from fraternity brothers mourning the loss of their fraternity whatsit after actually being charged with crimes — it's not fair, we're hard done by, other groups are as bad or worse and you ought to be focusing on them, Lehigh forced us into it by banning this or that, we're actually awesome, you don't understand how terrible this is for us, etc. But again, if my kid went off to college and what she managed to learn in a year and a half was to behave or even just talk like those guys, I'd be saying yeah, this was a mistake, let's find something else.

      I also think the question upthread about why this editorial ran is a reasonable one.

  35. You're All Pathetic on

    Everybody needs to relax. This is one of the most difficult universities in the nation to get into, go do some homework and stop worrying about this article. It is an OPINION piece. All these comments prove exactly what she was trying to say. There are three sentences written about AXO; 98% of the article is being completely disregarded because it’s not enough fuel for gossip. Grow up, this isn’t high school anymore. All of these comments reflect awfully on the students of this university that they care so much about an Editor’s Desk post it’s not even a published article. You all just need to find something to be butthurt about, Madison Schmitt, no fear something else more exciting will happen within the week and everyone will be pissed about that. Leave this poor girl alone she was given an assignment and she did a killer job. Maybe if you guys gave half the heart she does into your work you’d have the attention span to read more than a paragraph into something. Walk to FML, get a coffee, and go do your accounting homework.

  36. Please stop speculating and condemning. Some posts are nothing short of lynching. Very hateful. The demonstration of class is in action and words. No one knows what’s happening in other people’s lives and you don’t know what may happen in yours. In an earlier, post, someone mentioned the horrible things in the national news last week. Good point! We should keep that in mind and stop attacking each other and comparing “bads”.

    • Kiran: Many of us have seen the road rally sheet, complete with notations in the margins indicating which tasks had been completed, so we’re not speculating. In fact, the list finishes with, among other things, “DO NOT GET CAUGHT” and “DON’T LET ANYONE FIND THIS LIST.” Maybe you should refrain from speculating about what we know and don’t know.

    • Deeper Holedigger on

      Wow, disagreeing words are nothing short of a “lynching”! To utilize the word “lynching” to describe negative reactions to a B&W editorial demonstrates poor taste and a lack of appreciation of what school/ national srat sanctiond are compared to the terrible deaths of black males hanged in the south. Such word choice is at best careless and at worst minimalizing of the black experience. Not a good choice any day but a particularly unfortunate choice during black history month.

      Reading such defenses of the B&W assistant editor’s opinion leaves a typical reader thinking AXO’s sisters and it’s defenders are immature, self centered, careless, entitled, and feel blameless. We are on a larger public stage here. Does anyone think employers or families are reading and thinking…these are the employees I want to hire…or this is how I raised my daughter? The AXO community appears to have not yet learned to be mature in public and accept the sanctions with class and poise.

      B&W needs to help these students out by shutting down this thread. These students seem incapable of stifling their reactive responses which continue to be hurtful to their unsympathetic situation.

  37. “Alcoholic beverages and illegal drugs may not be stored, served or consumed on any property designated for regular use by Alpha Chi Omega chapters and colonies” –Alpha Chi Omega Nationals

    –>”The juniors pre-gamed on the third floor of the chapter house as they always did”

    Why would you post something so blatantly incriminating? Also…

    –>”This was a veteran tradition for the sorority”

    Again incriminating, showing this behavior was not a one-time thing, but a tradition? Regardless of what else was written in the article, this piece is pretty carelessly written. Not helping your conduct case.

  38. This article is trash. Do you think you are improving AXO’s situation by writing this??

    All of the houses do illegal/disgusting things, but how does that impact AXO’s situation? Pretty sure none of the other houses who got in trouble/kicked off the hill tried to plead their case by throwing anyone else under the bus. Great sense of community in this girl.

    You’re a disappointment to the Greek community, including those who have been kicked off the hill before you and did not try to drag everyone else down.

    • Amy Charles '89 on

      Well, that’s gorgeous too. You understand that attitudes like those are why prosecutors have jobs, right? But hey, keep on talking.

      Floridian nightlife bowtie admin guy: you look like you know up from down. It might be an uphill fight given the education some of these kids have had at the hands of their parents, but do you maybe want to organize some kind of program for them so they don’t grow up to be smalltime white-collar criminals, unindicted co-conspirators, defendants in labor rights violations cases, stuff like that?

  39. Just think what the uproar would be if it were men running the event. Peer pressure would be involved. The chapter would be dissolved for five years. Even though you did not participate you were a part of a group who did. You are guilty as well.

  40. Pingback: Editorial: What do you have to say? | Hellas Zone

  41. As a colonizing member, and former president of the Theta Chi chapter of Alpha Chi Omega, I am so saddened to hear that my sorority is in such trouble. While I know that while I was at Lehigh, I did some things I’m not proud of, they were mistakes, that I learned from and did not repeat. But I took accountability for my actions, I had nobody to blame for my actions.

    While I was at Lehigh, there were very clear inequities between fraternity and sororities…the main one being that in 1986, there were only 6 sororities and 31 fraternities. Fraternity rush happened in the Fall before the release of first semester grades, while sorority rush was in Spring, after grades were released. Women who didn’t “make grades” first semester for whatever reason, could not rush, while the men were already pledging, many of whom would not have been able to under the sorority rush guidelines. Sororities were also not allowed to live on the Hill. But, luckily much of that has changed and improved and is much more, although still not completely, equitable.

    I don’t want to bash the young woman who wrote this piece, as I imagine she’s having a very tough time on campus now-I certainly don’t think this helped AXO’s case-and as a nearly 50 year old, I won’t bully her. But I’m troubled by the complete lack of accountability that she seems to be accepting for her sorority, and deflecting the blame to make AXO seem like a scapegoat. I’m even more troubled that perhaps she does speak for the members, and perhaps they are similarly blaming others, deflecting reponsibility for their actions. I truly hope that is not the case. They clearly are not scapegoats, and I would have hoped that college would be helping them grow and be accountable for their actions, and accepting of consequences for those actions.

    When I initially heard about this, I felt like AXO was being treated somewhat unfairly, but as I heard more about the specifics of what happened, it’s hard for me to disagree with Greek Affairs and the university for coming down hard on the chapter. I wish these young women would have put a little more thought into this event, if it was such a timeheld tradition, I would think these intelligent young women would have had plenty of time over the years to at least make sure that the quests on this scavenger hunt were at the very least lawful (drinking aside, I’m a realist) and certainly not so degrading and humiliating. I’m saddened that the carelessness and thoughtlessness of these young women have endangered the chapter I worked so hard to build.

    And I will say that as a Lehigh parent of a fraternity member, I must agree with another commenter on this thread. The inequities in living conditions should be at the top of the list. Fraternity houses are complete dumps, sorority houses are not. I am deflecting that blame at the university, they should be ashamed of charging such high room and board for such conditions.

    • Robert Davenport on

      Thank you for the opinion of someone who has vested interested in both Lehigh and AXO. You are saddened by the actions of the sorority as are most of the comment writers. I would recommend those who have not done so to listen to: Stephanie Ruhle’s 2017 Lehigh Commencement Address:

      http://r.search.yahoo.com/_ylt=AwrC5plW6J5a.D8AamT8w8QF;_ylu=X3oDMTR2bXM0ZTNxBHNlYwNjZC10aHVtYgRzbGsDc25vYgR2dGlkAwRydXJsA2h0dHBzOi8vd3d3Lm5iY25ld3MuY29tL2ZlYXR1cmUvY29sbGVnZS1nYW1lLXBsYW4vc3RlcGhhbmllLXJ1aGxlLXJldHVybmluZy1sZWhpZ2gtaGVyLWFsbWEtbWF0ZXItY29tbWVuY2VtZW50LXNwZWFrZXItbjc2NDUxMQ–/RV=2/RE=1520392406/RO=10/RU=https%3a%2f%2fwww.nbcnews.com%2ffeature%2fcollege-game-plan%2fstephanie-ruhle-returning-lehigh-her-alma-mater-commencement-speaker-n764511/RK=2/RS=G4fIhBwQW77Z7FKD5GKY26_E8SM-

      She is a contemporary of yours and has words of wisdom for Lehigh Alumni and students that are applicable to this editorial as well as many of the other “controversial” articles.

    • I really appreciate your words and I think you’re spot on. Among all of the commenters here, I think your perspective in particular is incredibly important. It’s tough to see 25+ years of your legacy gone so I’m sorry for you and all of the great members of AXO over the years.

      • It’s not only AXO who has a legacy, it is every fraternity and sorority at Lehigh. Each one is an historic institution uniquely interwoven into the fabric of the university. To be clear, Lehigh would not be what it is today without every one of these Greek chapters, some of which have graced our campus for well over 100 years and boast thousands of alumni. Very sad to see them lose recognition one by one as the actives make increasingly questionable (OK, stupid) decisions in an increasingly intolerant environment. The alumni and advisory boards, who cannot be at their chapters 24/7, are generally called in after the damage has been done, when there is limited ability to effect change. The loss of ANY Greek chapter is tragic for all of their respective alumni and for Lehigh itself.

    • The writer of this piece is giving us the “when I was your age” treatment. Well,
      While I was at Lehigh-were fraternities violently hazing?
      While I was at Lehigh-were a high percentage of the kids admitted on Xanax, Klonepin and ADD meds which they readily diverted/sold and dangerously mixed with alcohol?
      While I was at Lehigh-were narcotics and OPIOIDS used? Were fraternities dealing in narcotics and opioids and their members forced to leave school to enter rehab to deal with their addiction?
      While I was at Lehigh- were eating and anxiety disorders rampant among the sorority girls who felt it necessary to satisfy the “male gaze” of the “top tier” fratboys they “partied with” ?
      While I was at Lehigh- was empty, soulless, porn driven, NSA “hook up” sex the norm?
      The Greek System at Lehigh is a blight. There is only one way for Lehigh to save its reputation and to provide a safe learning environment for its students and that is to dissolve all fraternities and sororities once and for all.

      • So now Greek life is responsible for all narcotics and opioid use and the fraternities are wholesale dealers of these drugs? And eating disorders, and hook-up culture as well? I’m sure none of these exist at any other non-Greek school, correct? And dissolving all fraternities and sororities will immediately solve those issues on Lehigh’s campus, and they will go away, right? Laughable. Blaming the Greek system for problems pervasive in society in general (and present in virtually all colleges nationwide) is misguided and naive. If you can’t accept the Greek system at Lehigh, you shouldn’t have gone there.There are plenty other non-Greek colleges you could have chosen from. Just because you don’t like it, aren’t part of it, or misunderstand it doesn’t mean it shouldn’t exist. While it is not for everyone, and not without its problems, if there was nothing of value to Greek life it would not have survived for over 150 years at colleges and universities in America with over 9 million current members nationwide.

  42. Fraternities and (to a certain extent) sororities are a blight on the college campus landscape. They are an anachronism of days past and should be relegated to the ash heap of history. That an organized group of (supposedly intelligent) men and women find it necessary to humiliate, abuse and, yes, even kill their fellow “brothers” and “sisters” defies comprehension. No amount of fundraising, charity events, dance-a-thons or other good works can make up for the atrocities committed for the privilege of wearing a few Greek letters on your clothing. Follow the lead of more enlightened institutions like Williams, Middlebury, Bowdoin and Colby and ban (not suspend, ban) them entirely.

  43. This is horrifying. Nevermind the blame-game, but that the students are more concerned with making sure their activities are kept secret than addressing why the actions are problematic to begin with.

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