Kappa Alpha lost its university recognition after receiving an Unaccredited rating in 2017-18 for the second consecutive year. Lehigh has dissolved five Greek chapters in the past year alone. (Sydney O'Tapi/B&W Staff)

Kappa Alpha Society loses university recognition


Lehigh’s chapter of The Kappa Alpha Society lost its university recognition after receiving an Unaccredited rating for a second consecutive year.

Its 2017-18 accreditation report issued by the university stated a lack of improvement in the culture of general members, especially in regard to disciplinary issues.

Kappa Alpha’s inability to improve on its outcomes from the 2016-17 year resulted in its automatic loss of recognition as per policies enacted by the Strengthening Greek Life Task Force in 2003-04. The relevant policy states a “chapter that receives an Unaccredited rating for two consecutive academic years loses University recognition and access to group housing.”

The accreditation panel in charge of the decision consisted of student, alumni and staff members. Ricardo Hall, the vice provost of Student Affairs, subsequently reviewed and accepted the panel’s findings.

Kappa Alpha’s loss of recognition fits into a broader trend of the diminishing presence of Greek life on Lehigh’s campus. Five chapters — four fraternities and one sorority — have lost recognition since July 2017.

The announcement from the Lehigh Greeks blog addressed this reality by asserting “the fraternity and sorority experience is at a critical crossroads — nationally and locally.” The statement also called for radical vision and leadership.

While Lehigh still remains the home to 14 fraternities and 11 sororities, it is unclear whether these dissolutions represent changing standards for the system. Kappa Alpha’s loss of recognition as a result of an accreditation report was the first since 2014, when Lambda Chi Alpha was dissolved immediately after receiving an Unacceptable rating, one step below Unaccredited and the lowest possible distinction.



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  1. “Kappa Alpha’s loss of recognition fits into a broader trend of the diminishing presence of Greek life on Lehigh’s campus.” Seems a bit biased. More appropriate would be: “Kappa Alpha’s loss of recognition fits into a broader trend of the community enforcing its standards for Greek organizations on Lehigh’s campus.” If certain fraternities and sororities can’t meet minimum expectations, whether by continuously facilitating alcohol abuse to the point of hospitalization, perpetuating bad behavior, or otherwise not contributing to the Greek and greater Lehigh community, there’s no reason for them to be at Lehigh.

  2. Current Student on

    Is kicking a house off for academic reasons the best way to deal with these situations? Just because KA had a low GPA and had ignored some minimum GPA rules doesn’t necessarily mean that the boot is the right option. Why should fraternities be the only group held to a minimum GPA requirement (I realize athletes are held to it as well so this applies to them)? No one NEEDS to be in a frat is what one might answer. But no one NEEDS to be in a club. No one NEEDS to be at Lehigh. I believe that if Lehigh held the independent students to the same standard they held the fraternities, there would be a lot less students enrolled.

  3. It should be noted that KA was chartered at Lehigh in 1894. That’s 124 years of continued existent, gone because the current undergraduate brothers couldn’t get it together and change. Too much of fraternity life has become dependent on hosting parties, and the real value and meaning is lost. I’m sure there are a lot of unhappy alumni right now, but before you blame the University, read through their accreditation report. It’s a fair assessment of the chapter’s unwillingness to change their culture. This isn’t the 1980s anymore, actions have consequences and they’re learning this the hard way now.

    • Amy Charles '89 on

      Yep. It’s too bad; I remember when KA had some pretty decent, smart guys there. But absolutely, if you’ve got a culture of rulebreaking, slacking, partying, and causing ruckuses off-campus to the point where the police have to show up, you can’t or won’t clean it up, and you think throwing money = service, you’re a liability, and…well, the 80s did have the right song:

      • Current Student on

        Wait, there was rule breaking and partying at a fraternity??? In college??? Breaking news everyone, call up Amy’s favorite news source Huff Po (or is it BuzzFeed or Vox or Salon?)!

        You know, instead of attacking the students in KA (many of which I am friends with) and calling them all indecent, maybe think with that Lehigh education you were so privileged to get. News flash, people not in fraternities party and drink. If I was deplorable enough (as you are) to toss a whole group of largely innocent people under the bus, I would list out all the clubs and “non-social” groups that throw parties complete with binge-drinking, vomiting, and loud music.

        Oh wait, screwing over those people isn’t part of the agenda.

        Amy, as you seem to be anti-fraternity, what did you do weeknights in college? Did you attend parties? Were they frat parties? Did anyone consume alcohol? I know about Lehigh in the 80s, so don’t try to lie.

        And since your so high and mighty, what service did you do at Lehigh? Did you spend hours organizing large events on the front lawn to raise money for cancer research or the USO?

        I’m sure the answers to these questions will be quite helpful in a discussion about Lehigh and the fraternity culture.

        • Amy Charles '89 on

          CS, I was about to answer your questions straight when the pitch of your voice here hit me. This is not about politics, or fraternities, or alcohol, or anything like that, is it. People can have reasonable and even goodnatured arguments about those things. But you’re just barely on the leash here, and that’s often your tone.

          Take a look at the things you’re defending here:

          – all the behavior in the report on KA;
          – the idea that although all the KA brothers were part of KA voluntarily, all had responsibility for the fraternity’s culture, and all knew they were being assessed as one entity, we should “bad apples” the story and decide there’s nothing to see here, move along;
          – the idea that it doesn’t matter anyway because there exist other people in the world have, do, or will behave badly too.

          That’s some tap-dancing, and if you moved away from it — or if it were about something else — I don’t think you’d find it reasonable.

          Then there’s this weird, persistent allegation about clubs that essentially behave like terrible fraternities but get special treatment and aren’t disbanded. I’ve asked about that one before, because it’s apparently a talking point, but I do not recall any other groups at Lehigh behaving like social fraternities. I’ve never gotten an answer about who it is who’s behaving so miserably, and I genuinely have no idea who you’re talking about. If there are other groups like that, certainly they should be kicked out or disbanded. But I remember a lot of clubs at Lehigh, and not one behaved like that.

          Then you have this oddly nasty remark about service. Maybe you believe that nobody really does things for people who need help, because you seem to think I’d have to admit I didn’t do any better. Of course I did better. So does anyone else who thinks about other people and the condition of the world. I didn’t think of what I was doing as “service”, since they just seemed like obvious helpful things to do, but, since you ask, probably the most important of the service-type thing I did while at Lehigh was volunteering for the Literacy Volunteers of America — that went on for quite a while, weekly for, I think, most of a year? Teaching adults to read. It was an entirely humbling experience along many lines. I had not known about the circumstances that leave adults illiterate, or what sorts of things push them to go and admit they can’t read and seek help. Or what kind of courage it requires for them to do so. I hadn’t known, either, how little there was out there to help these people. The people I worked with were very patient with me, and the usual thing about “my students taught me more than I taught them” applies. (You’re also still confused about what service entails. Throwing money is…well, money is great, but in the end, someone has to actually do something to help directly. Often without being paid for it. That’s the service part.)

          Most of my friends at Lehigh did better than the KA brothers did when it comes to things that are now called “service”. Not because they were in a contest, but because they saw people who could use their help, or because they recognized they were fortunate and felt obliged.

          So what exactly is your deal? Why does it make you angry that a group that’s persistently behaved badly now, after *years* — years that included warnings, help with reform, all kinds of hand-holding — faces consequences for the bad behavior? And why do you assume it’s some special attack?

          Most of all, what is this attitude of yours about…you know, helping people who need help? Why are you on the attack about that?

          If the real issue here is that you feel, personally, chronically belittled, and are blaming your affiliations and politics (or, rather, other people’s imagined hatred of your affiliations and politics at a school that’s not exactly Berkeley to begin with), then I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest that the problem here is not affiliations or politics at all, and that you don’t have to go around feeling this way. But it does mean being open to the idea that the issues aren’t about wearing an unpopular team jersey.

          • Current Student on

            I’ll assume no straight answer means you, and all of your friends, drank at Lehigh. It’s OK, my dad graduated in 84 and many of my friends had parents that graduated from Lehigh or went to locals schools and were familiar with Lehigh.

            The reason I ask this is that since the 1930s, the drinking age in PA has been 21. So yes, you are no better than these boys you so vehemently want removed from campus.

            Maybe the one thing that has changed since you left has been the nature of clubs. Many clubs are serving their purpose during the day, but I could name at least 3 of the biggest clubs and a few small clubs (but again, I will not name names as I find no reason to throw people under the bus) that contribute to both binge drinking and drug problems. But that does not get an ounce of publicity because they don’t have greek letters.

            And what do you think non-affiliated students do in their spare time? You think that if I don’t have some greek letters on my house that I’m staying away from drinking? Because for the majority of independent students, you’d be wrong. I think about 85% of students drink. Only about 40% are in Greek Life.

            Maybe you should only talk about things you are familiar with. Maybe back in the day you were right. Times have changed in the past 3 decades since you’ve had any idea of what happens at Lehigh. I have talked to my affiliated friends, some of which have been fraternity presidents, risk management, and rush chairs. From my experience with the houses, what they have told me, and what I have seen from an outside perspective, the bad apple argument remains true.

            For example, some of the fraternities and sororities (and clubs and living communities, but those don’t matter because they’re not greek) have reputations for being stoners. I talked to the ex-president of one of their fraternities and they have said that their reputation has come from about a 10% population of their house, many of which they regretted letting join once the students let their facade down. The president said the students he was referring to wanted to do nothing but smoke and work out all day, that he was skipping class and chapter to hit the gym and bong. But because of the actions of a few students, a kind of spin on the 80-20 rule, the whole fraternity had a “stoner” and “bad student” rep that actually drove me away from the house. But once I was able to be open minded and truly understood the facts about the bad apples, I was able to separate the good from the bad.

            But please tell me more about how fraternities these days are soooo bad and how all the boys in KA for the past few years have been bad people.

            Oh yeah, and the whole service thing? Maybe if Lehigh wasn’t constantly making up new things for the brothers to do – attending seminars about the risks of drugs and alcohol, and other lehigh admin talking points – they would have a little more time on their hands to do service.

            Again, you are so blissfully ignorant about life at Lehigh. Maybe leave it up to the current students to tell you what life is like, and not the other way around. If I’m ever actually curious and not asking rhetorical questions about Lehigh back in the day, I’ll let you know.

  4. This ‘accreditation’ process is a giant joke. I was on the panel in the recent past and it all boils down to whether these chicks in the greek affairs office like your house or not, which is largely based on whether you genuflect to their pc agenda. Totally subjective. This is just a pretext to further destroy fraternities at Lehigh. To what aim I am not sure. In addition to providing a safe partying experience devoid of driving or irritating locals, the fraternity allows the student to achieve more in all areas of personal development while in college. At least that was my experience. Otherwise I would just have gone to Caltech….

    • Amy Charles '89 on

      Funny thing — this Brock Turner appeal served as a reminder that Brock was also a KA, and when I read that I thought “no, totally wouldn’t be fair to bring that up, because I’m sure lots of KA boys are perfectly nice people, ish, and you wouldn’t want to — ” and then I saw your post.

  5. Pingback: A History of Greek Life at Lehigh University | Tim O'Hearn

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