Dear Lehigh and South Bethlehem community,
Recently we have been made aware of an anonymous letter outlining what appears to be a specific individual’s experience in a Greek organization at Lehigh. The purpose of our letter is not to discredit or deny anything that was written in the anonymous letter. Rather, as council presidents, we would like to acknowledge the fact that there is a cultural problem within the Greek community at Lehigh. We are willing to admit there is truth in these claims. We say this because growth and change will not come from denying the issues that plague our chapters, but rather through acknowledging and confronting the issues head on. As described in the book Leading Change by John P. Kotter, “to create any level of change, a sense of urgency must first be created.” In this case, we thank the anonymous letter for creating a sense of urgency and allowing us the opportunity to openly discuss these issues. We must now challenge ourselves to develop a strategy and vision for this needed culture transition.
With this comes some new changes, as we now have an amazing, new and full staff in the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Affairs who bring fresh perspectives and energy to their roles. Vice Provost for Student Affairs Ric Hall, has a wide range of experience advising Greek chapters of varying interests on different campuses throughout his career. We aim to work closely with him to make our goals come to fruition. We have the Greek EMerging Leaders program that has representation from all of our Greek chapters, where Greek members come together every week to discuss any issues and brainstorm ways to create meaningful change.
We have dedicated, hard-working chapter presidents, who are collaborating to create tremendous growth. We are in the process of developing strong, personal relationships with each president to better meet the needs of each specific chapter and its members. With OFSA’s help, guidance from Dr. Hall and the hard work of our Greek EMerging leaders, chapter presidents and general members, we are confident the Greek community will continue to improve. This will happen not only this year, but in the years to come.
Furthermore, Greek students are already heavily contributing to many of the positives throughout campus and will continue to do so. They are Student Senate members, Relay for Life participants, Peer Health Advisors, a capella singers and Greek Allies. They do much more than just simply exist in Greek life. Beyond simply having membership in various campus organizations, many hold positions on these executive boards. This demonstrates the willingness of these students to dedicate additional around campus and take on a greater level of responsibility.
Greek Life connects older and younger classes, exposing people to new ideas, majors, career paths and clubs. Members are not only involved in other organizations, but are actually encouraged by their chapters to become more involved in the Lehigh and South Bethlehem communities. Over 500 Greeks participated in this year’s MOOV-In, eagerly greeting students and parents as they first stepped onto campus in August. This large number of volunteers ensured a smooth and effortless transition to campus for new students and their families.
Greek organizations not only contribute to their national philanthropies, they also volunteer their time through direct service opportunities to help local Bethlehem residents. They do so through programs such as America Reads/ Counts Homework Club Dinners; where chapters cook and deliver dinner for the students in the Community Service Office homework clubs. They are involved with Adopt-a-Family, where chapters provide holiday gifts for lower income South Bethlehem families, in addition to South Side Cleanup, where chapters volunteer on Sunday mornings to work with other campus groups to pick up trash on the streets of our shared South Bethlehem.
With these opportunities, chapters strive to be intentional about service to ensure they are meeting the needs of our local community. As Greeks, we are strong in numbers and have a voice for change. This year, our goal is to foster a way to use our voice to promote a positive, healthy and happy Lehigh and South Bethlehem. As council presidents, we aim for our chapters to add something to both the Lehigh and South Bethlehem Communities, enhance its members’ experiences, and respond to the community voice. We are Greeks, but more importantly, we are leaders with the power to create meaningful change.
In the end, we do our best to be leaders in creating campus change and being the best version of ourselves possible, and we encourage our brothers and sisters to do the same. More than anything, Greek chapters provide a tremendous support system and chapters truly become a “home away from home.” These are families, and like any other organizations, are far from perfect. So we challenge our fellow Greek members to decide how we will make a change for the betterment of our collective Lehigh and South Bethlehem community.
Vincent Albanese, Interfraternity Council President
Morgan Gillies, Panhellenic President
Gaby Montes, Cultural Greek Council President