(Courtesy of Kathleen Quackenbush)

Greek EMerging Leaders bond at retreat

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The mentors and mentees of the Greek EMerging Leaders Program went on their yearly Great Poconos Escape camping trip to Camp Canadensis on Sept.13-15.

The Great Poconos Escape is an overnight retreat in which GEM mentors and mentees spend the weekend learning about leadership, bonding with the other members and taking part in meetings and exercises with the intent of growing as leaders in the Greek community.

According to Lehigh’s Student Affairs website, every spring, the GEM program selects 35 new individuals to participate in the leadership program for the following fall. The program aims to teach members how to create change within the Greek community. Members are split up into councils during the semester.

Each council is lead by a pair of mentors, who are typically third- or fourth-year students. They plan and facilitate major parts of the program, recruit new members and organize the program’s councils.

Kathleen Quackenbush, ’20, a GEM mentor, said the Great Pocono Escape made her excited for the semester because members learned a lot about the community and what they can do to stop stereotypes.

“(The Great Poconos Escape) was a great opportunity to get to know the diverse cohort of Greek members,” she said.

Erin Hank, ’19, a student leader for Greek Allies and member of the Greek Trans-Inclusion task force, said Greek life needs to become a better space for people of all identities.

She said she doesn’t want any student to feel that they would not belong in the community based on their sexuality, race, ethnicity or physical appearance.

Hank said she hopes the focus of Greek life shifts more toward intellectual conversations and long-lasting bonds, which are the ideals upon which the community was founded. 

With the loss of multiple chapters last year, Quackenbush stressed the importance for all chapters to come together and use each other as a resource, rather than treat each other as competitors.

Quackenbush said she thinks the extinction of Greek life will happen within the next 10 years at Lehigh, and she believes that it is each chapter’s responsibility to salvage the greatest parts of it.

Chloe Radtke, ’20, said the retreat helped members of different chapters create bonds and gave them the opportunity to talk about their personal lives in and outside of Greek life.

“It’s somewhere where we can share our experiences, but stories stay and lessons leave,” Radtke said.

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