Letter to the Editor: Response to an anonymous letter regarding Greek life

9

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.

Sincerely,

Vincent Albanese, Interfraternity Council President

Morgan Gillies, Panhellenic President

Gaby Montes, Cultural Greek Council President

Comment policy


Comments posted to The Brown and White website are reviewed by a moderator before being approved. Incendiary speech or harassing language, including comments targeted at individuals, may be deemed unacceptable and not published. Spam and other soliciting will also be declined.

The Brown and White also reserves the right to not publish entirely anonymous comments.

9 Comments

  1. Bruce A. Haines on

    The first step Greeks need to take is to move their seniors & juniors back into their on-campus houses. There is no leadership in the houses as the upperclassman all move into off campus apartments to party.

    The Greek experience we knew when Lehigh had 31 fraternities was a 3 year living experience together in the houses-only those with bad grades or 5th year brothers had to move out of the house. No one wanted to live off campus.

    Secondly, parties were only a weekend experience & never midweek. In those days we had Saturday classes so only the Arts & Crafts majors could afford to party on Friday night. Saturday nights were the only official party nights with live bands all over the hill.

    Greeks need to nurture the value of a leadership experience once again. Living in the house for 3 years provided leadership for the freshman & sophomore pledges. Greeks need to recreate that special “lesson in leadership” that was the compelling value provided from the Greek system at Lehigh. It separated Lehigh from other schools & Lehigh greek grads went on to become leaders in industry & on Wall Street.

    This is the only salvation for the Lehigh Greek system in my mind as I have watched the decay over the past several decades. Time for re-engineering the Greek system at Lehigh vs incremental change.

    • HarryMcNally ‘60 on

      Thanks to all thoughtful input! Bruce knows lots about Lehigh life from our times on campus through his purchase interest and continual development of Hotel Bethlehem and its city environment! I’ve thought from the time I first heard of the midweek parties that they were not what our world today needs for Lehigh students to help solve our earth’s serious problems! Lehigh’s been experimenting in past 5 or so years getting more partying on campus but it’s not been yet sustainably redeveloped for getting back to the good old times! Expectedly for me, Lehigh’s newest management inputs and developments for student life on campus, in past 2 years, including Greeklife, will get positive synergies of chapterwide and all other leadership throughout undergraduate life. We’ve advanced administrative, educational, legislative and student comprehension of many of the problems. I believe we may need more insurance and litigation inputs to catch up with or take advantage of the other advances. This way we may reduce bickering and backsliding so we can get to all good partying on campus and leave the town areas for normal residential and commercial life, including for older students in their later academic lives.

      Please continue positive thinking and talk about this so we may solve our major overall problems ASAP! Harry McNally ‘60 (908)327-2251

    • Amy Charles '89 on

      Bruce’s insitutional contempt for people who study things other than engineering is symptomatic of what was wrong with the old Greek system, which I remember. As a B&W reporter, I covered months’ worth of fraternities’ attempting to cover up how they’d put freshmen in physical danger with hazing, then ignored them when the had BACs high enough for them to need hospitalization. And, as today, the fraternity leadership was deeply pissed off that the B&W wasn’t just talking about how wonderful they were; they felt entitled to praise and nothing but, even when they endangered the lives of people they were “leading”.

      I am glad that Bruce’s prescription has no chance of being filled. Few students today want a world like his, in part because they’re aware (as Bruce was not) that the Bruces of the world are not the only people in the world. What’s the ratio again, Bruce, of your take-home compensation to your chambermaids’?

  2. Universities should not be involved or interested in the personal lives or social lives of their young adult students. Students should all live off campus and universities should not provide entertainment for them or be concerned about their feeding, sleeping, entertainment or health care…but Lehigh, and other universities, now soak a lot of $$$s out of parents and students and the administrations like social engineering these young adults for the benefit of the upward mobility in their career prospects.

    Be radical and do the right thing, make bold moves Lehigh Board of trustees, free the Engineer/Mountain Hawk students from the tyranny wrapped in nanny-hood of the administration.

  3. The anonymous article and this letter, while both technically true miss the point.
    The majority of people who join greek life do so specifically to have a place to drink and party, before they can get into bars. “Having a social life” just means having a place to drink on a Wednesday night.

    These same discussions have been happening since for the last 15+ years, and nothing has changed. Frankly, the most likely reason is that college kids want to drink. You’d have to be clueless to be shocked by this.

      • Why do you say that?
        As long as you have a minimum baseline GPA (e.g., 3.7+, which is frankly fairly easy with moderate studying if you’re an industrial engineering or finance major), there’s a lot more value to networking and developing relationships with your peers than burying yourself in textbooks. There haven’t been weekend classes at Lehigh in a long time.

        I went to (one of, if not) the top grad schools in my field and the social atmosphere was pretty much the exact same.

        I get why the school can’t endorse underage drinking, but these conversations seem to exist (rightly or wrongly) in a parallel universe to most of the business world

  4. this is interesting. My freshman has received several invitations of people she only just briefly met inviting to off campus house parties to get to know the greeks in that organization. This was the first week of school! I found that interesting because it was so early and was only getting used to new environment and classes. And yes, a “party with guys and drinks” was the enticer of the invitation. As a parent I was pretty annoyed that it was in the face so quickly. That’s not what sisterhood is about in my experience. I thought all this wouldn’t start until second semester but I suppose that’s for the formal recruiting. But first week???

Leave a Comment

More in Opinion
Edit desk: Why journalism?

Whether it be a formal interview or just in a casual conversation, when I say I am studying journalism, the...

Close