Vice provost of student affairs Ric Hall, whose office is held in Williams Hall, announced a plan for Greek life excellence on Tuesday, March 5, 2019. The 10 point plan will be implemented starting in the fall of 2019. (Kate Morrell/B&W Staff)

New guidelines issued to all Greek chapters

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Ricardo Hall, vice provost of student affairs, announced his plan to improve Greek life at Lehigh in his “10-point plan for Greek Life Excellence” in an email sent to the campus community on March 5.

Though Hall said the plan in place is a framework at this point in time, he said that he expects each of the 10 points to become reality.

Hall met privately with all of the presidents of each Greek chapter from across the Interfraternity Council, Panhellenic Council and Cultural Greek Council, on March 4, to explain the upcoming changes and answer their questions.

He said the meeting did not focus on the recent hazing violations, but rather on a way forward for Greek life at Lehigh.

And yet the violations by every IFC chapter prove to Hall that a change in culture is required.

“The truth is that Greek life requires attention because they’ve veered off the desired path,” Hall said.

Hall said these proposed changes are in an effort to meet the positive potential that he feels Lehigh’s Greek life system has failed to meet during his time at the university, which began in July 2017.

“I want us to be the template for schools across the country, in all of our students’ activities,” Hall said. “In Greek life, we’re pretty unspectacular.”

Hall said he expected pushback from the Greek representatives in the March 4 meeting on the live-in graduate assistant in each chapter house, but said he assured them that it is not an effort to “spy” on chapter residents but rather to act as a crisis reporter.

He said there will be an application process similar to the ones that Gryphons go through, and each will endure training from Residential Services.

Hall also said the hard alcohol ban, which was already instituted by IFC in all fraternity chapter houses, will be applied to all Lehigh-owned housing properties and is not directly related to Greek life, though the rule will apply to Greek houses too.

But that doesn’t mean the university is encouraging off-campus parties.

“You spend a lot of money to live in those houses,” he said. “Why not do as much as you can in there?”

Hall addressed rumors that Lehigh is moving to rid the school of Greek life.

“(Greek life) is an important part of Lehigh University,” Hall said. “It’s been on this campus since 1872… We’re not just going to do away with it. We want to strengthen it.”

The proposed new Center for Greek Life Excellence and Innovation and the summit are two ways in which Hall believes schools nationally will look at Lehigh and take note of the fraternities and sororities on campus in a positive way by showcasing the benefits of the program. He said some chapters either do not do a good job conveying the positive activities they participate in, or simply do not take part in such positive things as philanthropy and community partnerships.

Hall said he wants to get back to a balanced “three-legged stool” of Greek life, which includes philanthropy, social and academics. Right now, Greek life — in particular IFC — is too heavy on the “social” side, he said.

He said if Greek chapters are simply recruiting on parties and alcohol, then they’re not making a convincing case to their potential new members.

And while the proposed center will not be an administrative office, it will be under the jurisdiction of the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Affairs — which has lost four of its five staff members in recent months.

Dean of Students Katherine Lavinder said they have set a date of July 1 to name a new director to the office.

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5 Comments

  1. LehighEngineer on

    “And yet the violations by every IFC chapter prove to Hall that a change in culture is required”

    So ongoing challenges with the men’s groups (probation, violations) results in all sororities painted with the same broad brush? Doesn’t seem equitable–seems more like sororities are collateral damage to bad frat behavior.

    and, how does this do anything other than guarantee that you will drive even more risky behavior to off-campus; how is this 10 point plan have any chance of addressing that elephant in the room?

    • concerned citizen on

      To address your first comment, the only reason why the sorority’s don’t get violations is because the fraternities accept all of the risk when they hold social events. Labeling sororities as innocent victims without any blame is hypocritical and dishonest, as it is often their unsafe drinking habits and lack of individual accountability that leads fraternities to sanctions (e.g. Pike, Sig Chi). This is not to say that the men are not to blame, but labeling it as simply a one sided issue will not address the root causes of the issue: unsafe drinking habits promoted by a flawed community culture and escalated by impractical university policies.

      Moreover, the concept of having Graduate Assistants live in fraternity housing not only will lead to the school having to fund many structural modifications to the houses (to provide single rooms and bathrooms as most houses only have group showers/bathrooms) in a time where funds are thin and “campus improvements” are delayed, but it will also result in fraternities losing their ability to function. As a result, fewer individuals will want to live on campus in the houses, fraternities will be kicked off for not meeting occupancy, and parties will shift even further off campus, promoting a more unsafe drinking culture.

    • I think the elephant in the room is students choosing over and over and over to put themselves and others at real risk. It can’t be just the administration. Students in general have to expand their idea of what a good time is beyond drinking until blackout.

  2. Interesting that the ban is on hard liquor but not drugs for hazing. Frats need upperclassman to live in houses providing leadership as houses are full of irresponsible Sophomores & some juniors.

  3. This is Greek harassment on

    How does this guy Ric Hall have a job? No wonder Lehigh’s tuition is through the roof. They have people like this making decisions. His proposal has as much insight as my third grader’s science project. All this plan does is turn houses into mini dorms. Is this part of the full college experience people pay 70k for?

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