At 9 a.m. on a Saturday morning, members from fraternities across campus slapped on gloves and hoisted garbage bags.
Oct. 6 marked Lehigh’s Interfraternity Council’s (IFC) co-sponsored event with Community Service Office (CSO) called South Side Cleanup.
Adrienne McNeil, the assistant vice president of Community Relations, helped plan and organize the cleanup. McNeil estimated that 200 students participated from across the university.
She said the effort was focused on the areas next to campus, where many upperclassmen students live — spreading from Summit to Hayes streets.
Students split into groups and were assigned streets on the South Side. Groups were given vests, gloves and trash bags to clean their assigned areas. The trash bags were left at the streets and were later collected.
Jason Dinh, ’21, a participant and member of Phi Delta Theta, said many trash items, such as bags and cups, were collected east of campus from neighborhoods where social events are often held.
This year’s fall cleanup had a larger turnout because additional organizations joined. McNeil said some groups were interested in doing their own cleanups, but decided to work with the CSO because of the cleaning materials and breakfast the office supplied.
Michael Middlebrook, ’19, the vice president of IFC, has been participating in cleanups with the CSO since his first year at Lehigh. Middlebrook estimated that of the 200 total attendees, 40 were from IFC, spanning 13 different chapters.
He said it’s important for the campus community to give back to Bethlehem because students should feel fortunate to attend Lehigh. IFC collaboration with other campus groups for a valuable causes is something Middlebrook wants to see continue.
In the past, individual IFC chapters have hosted smaller events — for example, Alpha Epsilon Pi does a bi-weekly cleanup — but getting all chapters involved across the organization covered more ground and created a cohesive environment.
Middlebrook and Dinh’s fraternity, Phi Delt, has done an event where members play kickball with students at Broughal Middle School. Middlebrook said IFC is looking into hosting another event like this, but on a larger scale with more fraternity chapters.
Even if they’re not community service-focused IFC aims to hold events that unite the community.
“This year, we’re trying to do a bunch of bigger events that encompass a lot more of the chapters,” Middlebrook said.
Specifically, Tom Hyndman, ’19, the community service chair of IFC, has been working closely with the CSO to plan future events like the South Side Cleanup.
McNeil said the CSO has helped run a spring cleanup for 25 years, but this is only the second large-scale cleanup held in the fall.
The fall event, started by Eco-Reps last year, is more student-focused and involves groups like Residence Life and IFC. McNeil said the event in the spring is a broader community event with volunteers from local schools and Bethlehem residents alike.
Dinh, who works with CSO, said IFC could do more to be engaged with community service projects and the CSO.
He said the CSO reaches out to IFC leaders and tells them about events going on, but it’s up to the chapters participate. Dinh said IFC was recently informed about Adopt-a-Family, a program started by Lehigh Athletics, which would involve getting Christmas presents for a Bethlehem family.
He said he recognizes that a lot of chapters do small, individual events within their fraternities, but it wouldn’t be difficult to organize more frequent events like a cleanup each month.
“We’re all part of the community and we have a certain due diligence to make it better,” Dinh said.