Football is about as American as it gets.
And with the long-standing Lehigh-Lafayette Rivalry game on Saturday, this week has been shrouded in school spirit and tradition that dates back over 150 years.
At the same time, the university is holding International Week during Rivalry Week for the second year in a row. In past years, International Week was held before Rivalry Week.
This scheduling makes for poor timing — the overlap of these two weeks demonstrates the dichotomy of balancing old and new traditions.
Rivalry Week traditions include Bed Races on the Memorial Walkway, a bonfire near Goodman Stadium, t-shirt giveaways and dozens of bedsheets hung across campus, proudly displaying anti-Lafayette banter.
Lehigh boasts tradition, and in principle, Rivalry Week should seize students’ full attention to highlight our school’s rich history. At the same time, International Week deserves the same awareness.
Furthermore, as Le-Laf traditions are not given full attention, what’s worse is the events of International Week could get overshadowed. For example, the international film series in Neville Hall coincides with Bed Races.
This was either a startling oversight or a clear lack of priority for international celebration at Lehigh. It is obvious that a collision with Rivalry Week will lead to significantly less participation and awareness of other events.
Lehigh has a reputation to protect as a globally conscious university. We have a strong partnership with the United Nations, we’re an accredited nongovernmental organization and we partner with dozens of study abroad programs and offer immersive Iacocca international internships.
We were even selected as the sole U.S. location for the International Labor Organization’s centenary conference in April. Would an ILO-distinguished institution be expected to schedule its International Week during the same time as its most hectic week of the entire academic year?
With the goals of accepting more international students and increasing its global brand, the university needs to make a greater effort to celebrate international values in addition to flying around the world to promote the Campaign for Lehigh.
It’s entirely possible to be a university that holds true to its traditional Rivalry Week, while raising awareness of the efforts to increase its international involvement and recognition. But by trying to mix in both at the same time, Lehigh is making a grave mistake.
It’s clear it would be beneficial if International Week and Rivalry Week were held during separate weeks to give both the attention they deserve. Holding them together, however, provides students of all backgrounds the opportunity to defy the school’s scheduling error and enjoy many experiences all in one week — new cultures, old traditions and good ol’ American football.
All in all, it’s important to find time to appreciate International Week and what it has to offer.
International Week provides an opportunity to experience a small slice of other cultures from the convenience of our own campus.
There are opportunities to try foods, play games, watch movies and other ways to experience a small amount of cultural immersion. There are more professional aspects of International Week, like information sessions for Iacocca internships and study abroad programs. The Global Union also hosts a Friendsgiving to support this idea of cross-cultural engagement.
The best thing to do during the week is to find the right balance of both participating in a classic and traditional Rivalry Week and to get involved with Lehigh’s growing international community so you don’t miss out on the opportunity to experience something new.