Lehigh’s party culture prompts citations and warnings from the Lehigh University and Bethlehem Police Departments for underage drinking, noise complaints and other consequences. Both LUPD and BPD have the ability to cite students, and the two departments work together to monitor off-campus parties.
LUPD Chief Jason Schiffer keeps track of citations, warnings issued for houses and the number of hospital transports per year.
“The number of instances where we feel like we have to intervene has certainly decreased,” Schiffer said. “To me, the numbers that are more valuable and more important are hospital transports. Obviously, I want to see those numbers get driven down further and further.”
The number of hospital transports has decreased from 22 in the 2015-2016 academic year to 10 in the 2018-2019 academic year.
Captain Benjamin Hackett of the BPD Criminal Investigations Division works closely with LUPD to minimize party shut-downs.
At the start of every academic year, Hackett said BPD gives Lehigh’s juniors and seniors time to assimilate to off-campus culture before it issues warnings or citations.
“We try to be a little bit lenient so students get the chance to learn about what is expected of them,” Hackett said. “It depends on the attitude of the student body that year. For some reason, some houses just don’t care, so they will see us at the next party.”
Schiffer said he has noticed a decrease in citations and arrests since 2017, crediting the student body for creating a safer party environment. He said he doesn’t want to cite students unless he absolutely has to.
So far this year, LUPD has encountered 26 underage drinkers but only arrested four. The number of arrests in the 2015-2016 academic year was 26, falling to 10 in the 2018-2019 academic year.
“I think we are trying to demonstrate that we are very tolerant, and we can be very lenient, but we want everyone to be safe,” Schiffer said.
However, Schiffer has noticed an increase in warnings given out by BPD.
“(BPD has) issued a tremendous amount of warnings this year, and I have seen one disorderly house arrest from the city this year,” Schiffer said. “What you will start to see is more arrests, because they have warned countless houses about the disorderly issue.”
When a house gets warned or cited, the notice is directed to Holly Taylor, the assistant director of the Office of Student Conduct and Community Expectations. She then decides whether or not she wants to pass this issue along to Anthony Cordaro, ‘21, the judicial affairs chair of the Interfraternity Council.
The Interfraternity judicial committee is composed of 17 brothers in different Greek houses.
Cordaro said his role as head of the committee is to give out sanctions to chapters. He said the most common sanction is one week of social probation.
“The meetings aren’t meant to punish,” Cordaro said. “They are supposed to help chapters where they went wrong and help them move on.”
In order to help houses avoid this plight altogether, the committee is working on a list of “best practices,” such as implementing sober monitors and having quieter parties, to avoid disrupting the neighborhood.
Schiffer said he is aware of the safer practices Lehigh students have implemented in the party culture and hopes the trend continues.
“We can party, but keep it to a level that’s not dangerous,” Schiffer said.