Last March, Greek life’s 10-point plan was introduced to reform the current Greek system. However, the pandemic has presented a number of obstacles disrupting its implementation.
Live-in graduate assistants were to be assigned to Greek chapter houses during the fall 2020 semester. Since members are not living on campus, this was no longer necessary. Now, graduate students may not even be assigned by next fall, said Chloe Abshire, assistant dean and director for Fraternity and Sorority Affairs.
“Our intention is to do so, if we can … We had plans to renovate the houses that required renovations for the live-in GA suites … When the pandemic first started, pretty much all construction activity halted,” Abshire said.
Whether or not live-in students will be assigned to Greek houses by fall 2021 will depend on the timeline for building suites for the graduate students and whether or not they can be hired in time, Abshire said.
The plan also includes recommendations for restructuring leadership positions in chapters, including chapter presidents. While sophomores, juniors and seniors all still remain eligible, the plan recommends the position be held by a junior or senior.
Fran Orsini, ‘23, a member of the Gamma Phi Beta sorority, said it may be more beneficial for younger members to hold these positions.
“Especially when you just get into a sorority, you’re the one that has the most motivation to implement change,” Orsini said. “As the years go on, this kind of fizzles out.”
Another point was the creation of an “All-Greek Council,” a collection of representatives from all fraternities and sororities, intended to meet twice a semester. The first meeting in March was canceled due to students moving home from Lehigh due to the pandemic.
“With the ups and downs and changes to the plans for the semester, we’ve moved toward having sessions called ‘Let’s Talk About It’ … which have replaced the conversations that would have originally happened in the All-Greek Council setting,” Abshire said. “They’re more about current events and events that are impacting our chapters today.”
These smaller group sessions have met with the Student Conduct Office and the Community Service Office about new ways to get Greek life involved in making a positive impact on the campus and community. While these sessions have taken the place of All-Greek Council meetings, the plan is for the program to restart when the representatives can meet in person, Abshire said.
Another “Let’s Talk About It” session responded to the call to action prompted by the Black Lives Matter movement and Lehigh’s commitment to being an anti-racist institution.
Interfraternity Council President Preston Read, ‘21, said he believes the plan can do even more to address inclusivity in the Lehigh community.
“Me, the IFC exec board and the two other Greek councils and their exec boards are really passionate about making sure that our impact from our terms, especially this year, includes a commitment to inclusivity and anti-racism,” Read said. “I think the administration has a really good opportunity to get community leaders involved in the discussion … and talk about how we’re going to make change.”
Beyond the 10-point plan, chapters are making a variety of adjustments to their daily operations.
Despite these changes, Abshire said she is impressed with the ability of the chapters to unify during this difficult time.
“I know that it’s hard as a chapter to feel connected to your brothers and sisters or even as a community to feel connected to Greek life or Lehigh University because we are not coming together in our traditional ways,” Abshire said.