From left, Erin Andersen, an assistant director at OFSA, Scott Burden, a co-adviser of Greek Allies and the associate director of the Pride Center, and Sarah Duvall, '19, lead a discussion during a Greek Allies meeting on Oct. 23, 2018, at Theta Xi. The meeting's conversation focused on toxic masculinity. (Jessica Mellon/B&W Staff)

Greek Allies promotes open discussion, inclusive community

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Greek Allies aims to promote an inclusive Greek culture with weekly discussions about LGBTQ+ issues in the community.

Greek Allies, which is now a student-run organization co-sponsored by the Pride Center and Office of Sorority and Fraternity Affairs, was founded by the OFSA in 2009.

Erin Hank, ’19, a student leader for Greek Allies, said the mission of Greek Allies is to promote an inclusive and diverse Greek community at Lehigh through effective dialogue between members of the community.

Scott Burden, a co-adviser of Greek Allies and the associate director of the Pride Center, said 25 percent of the Lehigh LGBTQ+ community is involved in Greek Life.

“In order to make anyone to feel included, everyone has to be included,” Hank said.

Hank said she became involved in Greek Allies because Greek chapters were specifically founded as social change organizations.

“Our history is rooted in spaces on campus for people to get involved,” she said. “It (is) really great to have a space where people want to engage in these intellectual conversations about how we can make our spaces better for everyone.”

Greek Allies meets Tuesday afternoons at different sorority and fraternity chapter houses. Meetings are led by student leaders and co-advisers Burden and Erin Wilensky, the assistant director of OFSA.

Each meeting involves dialogue centered around different social issues and how they affect the Greek community.

On Oct. 23, the group met at the Theta Xi chapter house and discussed masculinity. Participants discussed pressure to fit gender norms in the Greek community and how this pressure can be reduced.

“We need to break down gender binaries, which is difficult because the whole Greek community is built upon gender binaries,” Burden said.

Jacob Dooley, ’19, a student leader for Greek Allies, said starting these kinds of conversations at Greek Allies meetings can help people become more comfortable holding them outside of meetings.

Hank said it is important to have a space where students can start these conversations because it takes a lot of vulnerability to start them elsewhere.

“We need to increase our comfortability with each other,” Hank said. “So that people don’t feel so insecure around the people (they) are supposed to trust most.”

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