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.