The Office of Fraternity and Sorority Affairs and the Student Affairs Office have implemented new social guidelines for all student organizations to abide by for the fall 2021 semester.
The new social guidelines are intended to replace the previous ones which were written in the 1990s. An interim pilot policy was constructed in 2016, however, upon review, it was found they were outdated and not compliant with various organizations’ national policies, said Chloe Soloman, assistant dean of Fraternity and Sorority Affairs.
Collectively called the Events with Alcohol Policy, the new guidelines apply to all student organizations, not just Greek chapters.
There are 13 new policies in place, which include clauses such as a “bring your own beverage” system for all events, invitation only gatherings with tracked attendance, as well as having fraternities and sororities co-sponsor events to share liability.
In creating the Events with Alcohol Policy, Soloman said those involved in devising the regulations referenced their philosophy, which prioritizes creating a safe and responsible community for all involved.
“I believe that we can provide a premiere sorority and fraternity experience at this institution and that sometimes the emphasis on the social element can get in the way of focusing on the good and true purpose as to why we exist in the first place,” Soloman said.
Following the Greek ‘pause’ in February 2020, student leaders across campus have been working together to create change in the Greek community, with these new policies being among the first steps.
In February 2020, focus groups were created composed of Greek students, athletes, members of Student Senate and gryphons. Facilitators asked them about the social scene at Lehigh to gain insight on the effectiveness of existing policy and safety measures, Soloman said.
In April 2021 these groups reconvened to prepare plans for a more “normal” fall 2021 semester. Dr. Lori Hart, an external consultant, was hired to help solidify best practices for student organizations hosting events with alcohol, Soloman said.
The Interfraternity Council, along with Hart, continued the work started during the Greek pause throughout the summer to further engage in a conversation that needed to take place, said Brandon Buscarnera, ‘22, vice president of the Interfraternity Council.
There was also a summit held for Greek leaders to discuss these new policies. Sarah Steffens, ‘22, president of Alpha Omicron Pi, found this extremely helpful and informative especially for the social chairs and risk managers of her sorority.
Buscarnera said the new policies have been working well so far, and he is happy with the results he is seeing.
“The biggest thing is that there are now better communication lines between chapters, the Lehigh University Police Department and advisors, which is something we have been lacking the past year,” Buscarnera said.
Although these guidelines are still new, Greek chapters have begun to incorporate the new policies into their own processes.
“Open communication with OFSA and conduct has been nice, and it is great to see the relationship flourish,” Steffens said.
Steffens said the guidelines are straightforward which she appreciates because policies have been ambiguous since the emergence of COVID-19.
Even within the first two weeks of classes, organizations have been utilizing event notification forms frequently, Soloman said.
Although still early in the semester, the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Affairs is optimistic about the change the new policies will create in the Lehigh community, Solomon said.