Lehigh University’s Greek chapter houses officially reopened at full capacity for the 2021-2022 academic year, following a year and a half of closure due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The chapter houses provide campus housing to sophomore and junior Greek-life members.
Akshan Rai, ‘24, a member of Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity, said the organization provided photos of the house and there was a virtual tour.
Rai said although he has never lived in the fraternity house before, it has been a positive experience thus far.
“Living in the house always gives you something to do and people to talk to,” Rai said. “You never feel alone.”
Although the reopening of chapter houses has provided benefits to members, complications have also arisen.
Chloe Soloman, assistant director of Fraternity and Sorority Affairs, said allowing the chapter houses to open at full capacity has made it more difficult for them to uphold COVID-19 guidelines the rest of campus is subject to.
“(These practices) should apply in the fraternity and sorority houses too, but it’s difficult for them because they’re brothers and sisters and just like in our family homes, they feel very comfortable with one another,” Soloman said. “They have meals together, and it’s a very communal environment.”
Before students moved in this year, Soloman and the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Affairs sent an updated lease to the fraternity and sorority chapters, who lease the houses from Lehigh, with a new COVID-19 clause that residents must abide by.
With 207 active COVID-19 cases both on and off-campus as of Sep. 5, Soloman said it is “heartbreaking” that this outbreak is happening directly after the first week of fully in-person classes since the beginning of 2020.
“Looking at where we were in the summer of 2020 versus the summer of 2021, I feel like we’re all in a very different headspace in responding to the pandemic,” Soloman said. “With the required vaccination for students, faculty and staff, we were really hopeful that we weren’t going to get the place that we’re in now starting in September.”
In addition to the return of students, maintenance and dining staff have resumed working in the houses.
Tim Unangst, chef at the Kappa Delta chapter house, said he was “excited” and “ready” to return to working there.
Having worked in the Kappa Delta house for the past five years, Unangst said the biggest difference this year is receiving food deliveries due to a shortage of drivers.
Unangst said in past years he would receive three deliveries a week. This year, he receives two. He said that he has to adjust by ordering more food per delivery.
“We all know that we have to deal with it (COVID-19), so we’re dealing with it how we have to,” Unangst said.