Each of Lehigh’s 13 IFC Greek chapters was hit with identical hazing charges on Tuesday, Feb. 5, according to the university’s Greek Blog webpage. Each of the separate post cites “an incident that occurred on Dec. 1, 2018” in which said chapter’s actions “may have violated the Lehigh University Code of Conduct.”
Alleged violations include respect for others (hazing), respect for community (irresponsible distribution of alcohol, encouraging others), respect for self (unauthorized consumption, distribution or possession) and respect for others (general).
All chapters are also charged with violating the Lehigh University social policy. A violation is defined as “any occasion where the atmosphere or circumstances are such that the intended or likely outcome is to either abuse alcohol or become intoxicated. Examples of irresponsible distribution of alcohol include but are not limited to kegs, funnels, shot parties, hotel parties, Beirut games, pong ball, scorpion bowls, chugging contests or other organized drinking games.”
These charges were posted to the Lehigh Greek Blog, without contacting chapters directly. Chapters affected include Alpha Epsilon Pi, Alpha Tau Omega, Chi Phi, Chi Psi, Delta Chi, Delta Upsilon, Phi Delta Theta, Phi Kappa Theta, Phi Sigma Kappa, Psi Upsilon, Sigma Phi Epsilon, Theta Xi and Theta Chi.
To paraphrase the Kenyan’s paster the “Snowflakes are coming home to roost”. There goeth the other 50% of alumnus interest and support. Hope the new diverse community will be there 30 or 40 years to support the shell of “My Lehigh”.
A part of me hopes the school will just shut down because it has been a very long time since I wasn’t completely ashamed to have gone there.
For background, University administration received an anonymous hazing report from a parent of a first year student arising out of a text received by their son from an unidentified fraternity relating to fraternity recruitment and President John Simon, Provost Pat Farrell, and Vice Provost of Student Affairs Ricardo Hall responded by launching a fraternity-wide investigation into the hazing allegation and suspending recruitment until its resolution. In response, every fraternity submitted a list of all potential New Members, all social events in the fall semester to which potential New Members were invited, and transcripts of all communications with potential New Members in an attempt to identify the fraternity responsible for the text in the hazing allegation. As of the beginning of the spring semester, the University claimed not to have been able to identify the particular fraternity in question and instead responded by asking all fraternities to sign an agreement that they would “not offer, encourage, or in any way compel prospective new members (prospective members, pledges, etc.) to consumer alcohol,” nor allow its current members to “consume alcohol in the presence of new members at on-campus fraternity-sponsored events, including registered parties,” or “at off-campus fraternity-sponsored events.” Every fraternity signed this pledge and, according to University administration, there have been few or no violations of this commitment. Additionally, last Thursday, more than 600 Greek students attended a program with the parents of two students who died as a result of hazing (Timothy Piazza and Marquise Braham) and more than 2,100 people have watched the video on Lehigh’s Facebook page as of today (https://www.facebook.com/lehighu/videos/600951263678346).
Notwithstanding, the University charged all fraternities with hazing and alcohol-related violations of the Code of Conduct on the basis that fraternity members texting potential New Members inviting them to parties in the fall semester, which included invitations to consume alcohol at those parties, were tantamount to hazing because they created an environment in which those potential New Members, most of whom are freshmen, could feel peer pressured into drinking excessively in order gain admission into a particular fraternity. Notable is the fact that, to the knowledge of the fraternities, no individual potential New Member has come forward alleging that they were either hazed or pressured into consuming alcohol in order to receive a bid, as well as the fact that the fraternities conducted formal recruitment during the first two weeks of the spring semester without any alcohol so any supposed pressure to drink in order to get a bid, if any existed, would have fallen away.
The texts were out of line and perpetuate an alcohol-first mentality in the Greek system and the fraternities should take responsibility for the alcohol-related charges presented. But characterizing it as hazing is overboard.
If first-years did feel pressure to drink, why would they not also feel pressure to keep quiet about it?
That’s a fair point but, in my opinion, unlikely here for two reasons: First, the singular “hazing” report that Lehigh received in this case came anonymously from a parent of a first year student, and no students have come forward, anonymously or otherwise, to voice concerns. Second, if a first year student were fearful of retaliation by coming forward to report hazing, hazing can be reported anonymously either to Lehigh through an online form on Student Affairs’ website or the national anti-hazing hotline, and potential New Members are told of these resources during pre-recruitment sessions with the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Affairs and the Interfraternity Council.
We need to ask ourselves at what point do we expect Lehigh students to make their own decisions. Anyone who receives an invitation to a party that talks up how much drinking will happen and how much fun the hosts expects that to be has a choice whether or not to go to accept that invitation. If you’re the type of person who may like to drink but not to the point of blacking out or throwing up, you can still choose to go to the party and choose to moderate your alcohol intake. If you’re the type of person who does not find a party like that fun, that’s totally ok and you can choose not to go to the party—or you can choose to go to the party and choose not to drink. If you’re the type of person who does not find that culture appealing, again, that’s totally ok and you can choose other avenues to socialize at Lehigh. It’s all about choice.
Every first year student at every college is presented with choices like these—to do things or not to do things that they probably weren’t allowed to do, at least freely, under their parents’ roof in high school. We expect students to mature and develop a sense of self and self-determination during their time at college. The choice presented to these potential New Members in this case wasn’t nefarious. It wasn’t even pressured. We need to allow students to make their own decisions rather than reacting to a parent’s dismay over the tone and content of a text message by accusing 522 students of hazing.
I couldn’t agree more. When it comes to managing Greek life, Lehigh’s administration has a long and troubling history of knee-jerk over-reactions and overreach policies that have backfired again and again and have created more problems over the years than they have solved. If nothing else, they have proven that they are their own worst enemy. True to form, this latest outrage is no exception, and certainly not a surprise.
Can’t wait to see what bold and innovative tools Ricardo Hall plans on using next to fulfill his mission to “strengthen” Greek life at Lehigh! More unnecessary police crackdowns and citations, anyone? Suspending Greek life for the rest of the year while they force every chapter to jump through increasingly difficult and unattainable hoops? I guess last semester was just too quiet for the Student Affairs Office. They are apparently overstaffed, and need to manufacture crises in order to keep their people busy and justify their jobs.
Ric Hall is a complete joke.
Funny enough, staff members are fleeing the Student Affairs department. Keep up the good work, Ricardo
That’s one way to eliminate administrative bloat. What’s the count at now? I’ve lost track. Will there even be staff left to lead whatever asinine conduct sanctions come of this?
If IFC had managed to succeed in turning frats civil in its long years of existence, I’d agree with you on these issues of choice and responsibility. Alcohol isn’t inherently evil. Unfortunately, year after year, we see fraternities in the news and being disciplined for hazing, vandalism and racist graffiti, violent crime, the same antisocial stuff they’ve always done. (Usually at this point someone pops up and say that other clubs do this too, and I say “which”, and then it’s crickets.) I don’t know how many decades’ worth of chances they’re supposed to have, but it doesn’t look as though they’re responding with a sense of growing maturity and wise decisionmaking. So when we get to the question, “at what point do we allow fraternities to make their own decisions about boozy parties,” it does begin to look like the answer is “never, unfortunately.” Lehigh has no obligation to allow them to advertise drink-your-face-off parties and see which first-years make a responsible choice, nor is that a reasonable thing to suggest they allow.
It looks to me as though, in the face of decreasing public (and insurers’) tolerance for “young men bonding and letting off steam” in a way that means the kind of stuff above, Lehigh’s responded by saying increasingly often to the frats: “You can’t do that here. You can follow the rules or leave.” And it does look as though, increasingly, they mean it. Unfortunately, the fraternities seem to be remarkably resistant to the message. It’s a great way of ensuring that in 15 years there won’t be fraternities at Lehigh. This wouldn’t bother me at all.
My advice to the frats: Assume that they mean it. And if you don’t want to live under those rules, don’t join a fraternity, and don’t live on campus, and maybe send a note to your parents suggesting that they send you to Penn State or Rutgers instead, because you intend to drink till your eyeballs melt, so they may as well not throw away all the money.
About “every first-year at every college” — it wasn’t till I left Lehigh and started spending time at other universities that I understood that Lehigh’s drinking culture was unusual, and not in a good way. I don’t know how much of that remains now, though the entitled, indeed indignant insta-defense every time a frat’s caught breaking some rule tells me that at least in some ways, not much has changed.
Your tone is admirable, by the way, but the content — particularly the reaction to the parent’s speaking up — reminds me of nothing so much as the frat reaction to Jeannie Clery’s parents’ speaking up, which I was around for. If the frats break the conduct rules — rules which have been laid out clearly, and accepted — then don’t blame parents or anyone else for reporting it and saying, hey, there’s a problem. If you have that serious a problem with the conduct rules, and you want that badly to party at will, you’re completely free to. Off campus and without the fraternity banner. Until the cops show, anyway.
To answer your “which” question, Google “college football player arrests”. No Lehigh players come up but many Universities have no problem santizing these problems when they are done by their money makers.
I think you’ll find the “let’s get rid of fraternities” crowd has near-complete overlap with the “let’s get rid of college football that’s actually pro ball, fire the obscenely overpaid coaches, and spend the money on scholarships” crowd. I’d asked about “clubs”, though, and college football teams aren’t generally clubs, though there are club sports. I can’t remember the last time I heard of a ultimate club team hazing people or spray-painting slurs on someone’s house, though. Maybe because I never have.
ultimate club might be a really bad choice to use as an example of good behavior, just sayin….
There are many things I know upon which we have disagreed but this comment was right on the money:
“About ‘every first-year at every college’ — it wasn’t till I left Lehigh and started spending time at other universities that I understood that Lehigh’s drinking culture was unusual, and not in a good way.”
I only regret one thing in life and it is not transferring out of Lehigh.
Ok mr. administration
Did you read my comments? Very much anti-administration on this
This seems to be another opportunity for B&W investigative reporting.
Me too, Robert. Unfortunately crickets so far… Lately it seems B&W is more concerned with what is happening in Washington, DC, South Bethlehem and the Lehigh Valley than what is happening on their own campus to their own students!
Is lehigh a Mormon university now?
Seriously. I’ll take “Overcorrections” for 500 please, Alex.
The (continued) Feminization of America. LU has been embracing the Social Justice Warriors agenda for some time now. Be careful what you wish for (a nation devoid of men), you just might get it.
I think the XX/XY ratio will stay pretty much where it is, Jim. Saying “you’re not allowed to have boozy recruiting parties” isn’t quite the same thing as saying, “We’re here to round up all the XYs.”
Actually, you know what does knock those ratios off-kilter? Wars. Pretty reliable for that. Maybe don’t be in favor of them if you’re anxious about these things.
Really? Punishing everyone based on an anonymous tip reporting an alleged hazing violation? And without identifying the alleged violator? So much for due process. In addition.the administration is encouraging helicopter parenting by acting on an email from a parent. The students are all adults for goodness sake. And, all allegedly intelligent since they were admitted to Lehigh. If they perceive a problem with the fraternity recruitment process, let them deal with it themselves.
God, watching the privileges erode, it’s remarkable. Like watching the beach house fall right over the dune.
You are doing good with the first half of your comment. The last three statements have problems. Many times adults don’t act like adults; intelligent people do stupid things and peer pressure causes rational individuals to make bad decisions. Unfortunately, at Lehigh, there is a recent history of intelligent young adults not acting as such
With every fraternity in violation of an infraction which mirrored my house being dissolved, Lehigh must either strongly support the system or abolish it. My experience was valuable in my life. Could Lehigh try to recolonize one of the houses which had been dissolved?
I liked beer. I still like beer.
Amy, why are you so bitter towards men?