gryphons at the beginning of the 2018-2019 school year. The Gryphon Society has extended the deadline for application for 2021-2021 to March 1, 2021. (Courtesy of Lehigh Student Affairs)

Gryphon recruitment extended to accommodate students newly joining campus

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Recognizing that a number of students studying off-campus last fall have returned to Lehigh for the spring, the Office of Residence Life has offered an additional opportunity for students to apply to be a Gryphon for the 2021-2022 academic year outside of their usual fall recruitment.

While the application deadline was initially Feb. 22, the Office of Residence Life recently decided to extend this date to March 1 to allow additional time for students to submit their materials.

Although applications are still being accepted and numbers are not yet finalized, Keith Blankenship, director of residence life, anticipates a competitive application process.

“Given the number of students currently residing on campus, the application numbers seem to be trending up, proportional to the application pool in recent years,” Blankenship said in an email.

Despite this rising projection, the Office of Residence Life has faced obstacles in reaching out to prospective Gryphons. In past semesters, staff members could be found inside the University Center. However, while navigating the pandemic, they have had to function remotely—a challenge that has made it difficult to form connections with new students.

Despite this hurdle, there are still students who are enthusiastic about applying. 

Eva Wolfe, ‘23, is hoping to become a Gryphon for first-year students.   

“I really enjoy helping people and I thought this would be a great opportunity to do that,” Wolfe said. “I want to create a greater sense of community for students on campus, especially during COVID when so many people have felt isolated. I know the job isn’t completely easy all the time, I know sometimes you have to deal with conflicts, but I think overall it will be a rewarding experience.”

The selection process for candidates will look similar to the past, consisting of information sessions, and both group and individual interviews. 

The steps of the process won’t be changing, however they will all be done virtually. 

“By design the Gryphon position is meant to bring people together, and our recruitment and selection process is designed to reflect that as well,” Blankenship said. “Participating in a process in a virtual space, for a position meant to bring people together, has its own inherent challenges for candidates and for our staff.”

Marina Mendez, ‘23, is in her first year on staff, gryphoning for two floors in the new dorm, Hitch House. She said all meetings were done online this year, which posed some difficulties for her fellow staff members. 

“We didn’t even get to meet the Gryphons in our staff in person because we were trying to be safe,” Mendez said. “I have met a lot of my fellow Gryphon staff by randomly walking into them in the hallways or around campus.”

COVID-19 has greatly impacted not only the Gryphon recruitment process, but also the on-campus living experience for both residents and Gryphons. 

However, as the spring semester will likely impact students’ perception of Gryphons and how they fit into community-building, some Gryphons are choosing to look at this experience in a positive light, reflecting on why they initially applied for the position.

“Even if you’re wearing a mask, I’ve noticed that smiling doesn’t always require people to see your teeth,” said FJ Olugbodi, ‘23, a Gryphon in Maida House. “If you just look positive, it can brighten someone’s day, and that’s one of the reasons why I became a Gryphon. Just being able to interact with the residents and talk to them is more of a highlight than a hindrance that stops me from accomplishing what I need to do. It is what I need to do.”

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