Lehigh students have mixed feelings about the administration’s recent claim that the large spike in COVID-19 cases both on and off campus are directly related to underground in-person Greek recruitment events.
In a recent email, Lehigh’s COVID-19 Response Team highlighted the disproportionate amount of positive tests occurring within students in the Greek community.
“The positive COVID-19 cases are spread out among different class years, with a disproportionate number of positives occurring for students living off-campus and also for those identified as participating in Greek recruitment,” the email said.
Many Lehigh students maintain that the recruitment process was, as Falyn Goldstein, Panhellenic Council president said, “completely virtual.”
“I do not believe that our recruitment process led to the spike in COVID-19 cases, as it was all virtual and the PNMs [potential new members]were given schedules that complied with and followed all COVID-19 guidelines,” Goldstein said in an email.
However, Juliana Kilgore, ‘24, said she believes “dirty rush” was definitely more prevalent this year in-person events could have led to the increase in COVID-19 cases.
“If rush hadn’t happened at all this year, cases would have probably been lower,” Kilgore said.
Kilgore believes that the increased unofficial rush events is due to Greek members living off-campus as opposed to in the on-campus Greek houses.
The Interfraternity Council’s executive board and Lehigh’s Office of Fraternity and Sorority Affairs did not respond to requests for interviews.
While the university, in tandem with the Interfraternity Council, provided Zoom recruitment events for students to meet on-campus fraternities, many attribute off-campus recruitment events to the spike.
Kilgore said she knows of multiple students who continued to attend in-person fraternity events, despite the shift to Zoom.
“I think that there is definitely a tie between fraternity recruitment having these events and COVID-19 cases,” Kilgore said.
However, some students believe that solely blaming Greek organizations is not justified.
“This is happening pretty much everywhere,” said Ben Rosshirt, ‘22. “When I talk to my friends from home they all say that COVID-19 is going crazy.”
Rosshirt believes the spikes in case count are not particular to Lehigh’s campus, but are rather a reflection of what is happening in the world.
Olivia Nunamaker, ‘24, believes the increased case count can be attributed to the cold weather and students being forced to spend more time inside.
“I feel like it would have happened regardless, especially considering it’s the winter months now so you can’t be outside as much,” Nunamaker said.
Some attribute the uptick in cases to students growing restless nearing the one year mark since COVID-19 emerged in the United States and lockdown began.
“(Greek recruitment is) probably not helping, but I think it would be happening regardless,” Rosshirt said. “I think people are getting kind of tired and less vigilant.”
Nunamaker said the administration is doing everything they possibly could to keep cases down.
“I feel like it’s coincidental because no matter what college you go to, kids are going to go out and have parties, whether they’re Greek related or not,” Nunamaker said.