With various Code of Conduct violations and hazing allegations surrounding fraternities and sororities, the administration has been focusing on ways to improve Greek life, including implementing the university’s 10-point plan.
Some chapters have been kicked off in 2018, such as Pi Kappa Alpha, Kappa Alpha Society and Alpha Chi Omega. Others have been suspended. All 13 fraternities were charged with identical violations earlier this semester.
Greek life makes up a large portion of Lehigh’s social life, with just under 30 percent of Lehigh undergraduates participating in Greek life as of fall 2017, the lowest it has been during 2013 to 2017, the years in which the Office of Student Affairs conducted a study. With a diminishing Greek presence and recent university action, current and prospective students are seeing a different institution when it comes to Greek life.
Director of Admissions Bruce Bunnick said he believes Greek life is not as big of a factor in a students’ decision to attend Lehigh as it has been in the past.
“I’ve been at Lehigh for about 22 years now, and there was a time when students would ask questions about Greek life and its presence on campus,” Bunnick said. “Today, the conversation has shifted dramatically to general campus culture and how they are going to spend their time and investment at Lehigh.”
In the past seven to 10 years, even with a diminishing Greek presence, the university has grown more popular, with an application pool of 15,647 applicants for the class of 2023, the most in Lehigh’s history.
Ricardo Hall, the vice provost of Student Affairs, said there is no local or institutional interest to get rid of Greek life, and in fact, he sees a bright future for the Greek community.
“I feel that Lehigh can be a positive example of how Greek life can be done in a beneficial way on campus,” Hall said. “By working with our fraternities and sororities, they will learn how to recruit differently and better.”
Hall is looking to implement the plan over the course of the next several years, and said Greek life at Lehigh has strayed away from its original intentions.
“I believe in the ideals of fraternity in the means it was founded: principles of brotherhood, sisterhood, philanthropy and service to the community,” he said. “Because of these foundations, students will be driven to Greek organizations. We are on a positive path toward those ends.”
Liz Tully, ’21, the vice president of member recruitment of Alpha Phi sorority, said she feels, however, that Greek life is a factor for many students when choosing colleges, like it was for her.
Tully said she chose a school based on its Greek presence, and was drawn to Lehigh for this reason, but can understand why Greek life could be polarizing.
She noted that the numbers of first-year women joining the Greek system are decreasing and that Lehigh is attempting to recruit low-income, first-generation students who Tully said are historically not attracted to Greek life.
“But I have an optimistic view about the future,” Tully said. “Greek life has been around for over 100 years, and I am sure it will be around for more. At the end of the day, it is up to the school if it wants to keep the Greek system alive.”