Tucker Aglio, ’20, parked his car in the Alumni Memorial parking garage and walked toward Psi Upsilon for a party on Feb. 10. He wasn’t expecting many people to attend but soon realized he was mistaken, as he watched students from various clubs and organizations walking toward the house.
Aglio, a member of Alpha Tau Omega, Kevin Mittal, ’19, a member of Psi Upsilon, and members of different student organizations first came up with the idea to host a “campus connector” party when they attended LeaderShape.
“We were in a facilitated discussion about how we could create a more inclusive environment at Lehigh,” Aglio said. “We actually decided to take action and not just talk about it, but do something about it.”
Mittal said members of the discussion group wanted to push students out of their comfort zones and encourage them to talk to people outside their typical social circles.
The result was a registered party including Psi Upsilon, Alpha Tau Omega, Alpha Phi, the National Society for Black Engineers, the Latino Student Alliance, the Indian Students Association, the Black Student Union and Lambda Theta Alpha Latin Sorority Inc.
The Happiness Collective and campus dance groups also attended the party.
Mittal was the point of contact for all organizations involved and was heavily involved in the planning process. He said his ultimate goal for the party was to promote inclusivity among various campus groups and students in Greek life.
“I’m really hoping this party is a catalyst and that other organizations on campus will start trying to do the same thing,” Mittal said.
Aglio said he feels there’s a divide between Greek students, athletes and non-Greek students, andthis event was a step to lower barriers between those groups.
Cyrus Johannes, ‘20, a member of Psi Upsilon, said the separation between groups at Lehigh goes beyond Greek life and includes problems with race and the inclusion of cultural groups.
Johannes said a person is defined by much more than his or her Greek letters.
“At the end of the day,” Johannes said. “I can take off my letters.”
Before the event, representatives from each group met to discuss music, expenses and other organizational details. Mittal said they planned to have members from each group spend time together before the party. Then, at the party, they could further that integration and get to know others who attended.
Mittal said the party reached capacity early on, with about 250 or more students from all 10 organizations. He said people were waiting outside to get in.
Jasmine Banful, ’20, also known as DJ Zen, was one of the DJs at the party along with Sudharsh Shankar, ’18. They incorporated different types of music to promote unity.
Banful, a member of the National Society for Black Engineers, said most of the time, different groups of people attend the events she DJs, however, they don’t always interact with one another.
“A lot of people I talked to (who went to the party) were like, ‘I would never see myself going to a registered party, and here I am,’” Banful said.
Mittal said the party was a good first step to promoting inclusion, but just one party will not make a significant difference. He said there are plans to host more parties across student groups, and he hopes other organizations will start to do the same.