The new 10-Point Plan for Greek Excellence that was released by the Office of Student Affairs Tuesday morning sparked backlash from fraternity and sorority members.
Ricardo Hall, vice provost for Student Affairs, discussed the proposed plan of in a meeting with executive members of the Greek community in a conference Monday night, preceding the release of the plan in an email to the rest of the Lehigh community the following day. The plan outlines 10 ways to create a better Greek life at Lehigh. Members of the Interfraternity Council, the Panhellenic Council and the Cultural Greek Council were in attendance on Monday, as well as the presidents of individual chapters.
Caroline Carlton, ’21, president of Alpha Omicron Pi, said there was concern during the meeting over the lack of detail provided by Hall. She noted that people were disappointed by the fact that their voices in the meeting did not seem to be heard.
“People do realize it is a positive and idealistic plan, but a big concern was the fact that they presented this plan and then decided they were going to release it the next day no matter how the conversation went,” Carlton said.
President of Panhel Emily Brown, ’19, said Hall presented his plan in terms of future excellence, but the chapter presidents left the meeting most concerned about how their members would react to these changes in the short term.
President of IFC Matt Tracy, ’19, said there was a positive response to most of the points of the plan that address systemic issues concerning Greek Life. However, one of the topics that struck a chord with many students present at the meeting, Tracy said, was the decision to add live-in Graduate Assistants to sorority and fraternity houses.
“I personally don’t think that this will prevent anything,” Tracy said. “At the Beta Theta Pi house at Penn State, there was a live-in GA when Tim Piazza passed away.”
However, Tracy said there is a misconception about the role that GA’s will play while living in these houses.
“A lot of people believe the university is going to choose someone to spy on them,” Tracy said. “None of this is true. They are there in the event of a crisis in case someone needs help. They aren’t there to shut down the parties or do room searches.”
Austin Leopold, ’21, president of Delta Chi, said he believes that people looking in from an outside perspective may believe the university is pushing rules and regulations onto the student body that they are not ready for. However, he noted that the university is making an attempt to look out for the welfare of the student population.
Brown agreed that the school is acting in good faith with the implementation of this plan, but suggested that “intention versus impact” is important to consider.
“It’s a lot of temporary fixes,” Brown said. “If we want to work toward a cultural shift, then there’s a lot more work to be done that won’t fit inside a 10-point plan. That’s on us at this point, since the school has shown that they are willing to dedicate the resources.”
Carlton said there are positive aspects of the plan, but it will bring a lot of good publicity to the school without addressing the actual issues concerning the problems behind Greek life.
There was a significant outcry from the Greek community, Leopold said, but noted that there will always be backlash when an institution tries to change an existing culture. He said opening up the dialogue between Greek organizations and Hall is important when making major changes.
“I really hope that he will continue to work with us because there were times in the past few months that he wasn’t always too open to discussion,” Leopold said. “At times, the conversation was inclusive, and at times, I felt a little bit in the dark about what they were doing.”
Tracy said he believes the administration is working hard to do great things for the future of this school. However, he said the university hasn’t always paid attention paid to the current students and what they require.
“Leadership isn’t supposed to be about you and your agenda, it’s about the people that you’re serving,” Tracy said. “As of right now, we don’t feel as if we’re being served nor do we feel like we’re being led.”
Tracy said Hall once told him that people will always be averse to change, so it’s about figuring out what good change actually looks like.
“For me, good change looks like change where the people who are closest to the problem have a say in the solution,” Tracy said.