The Office of Fraternity and Sorority Affairs plans to instate the Live-In Graduate Assistant Program in on-campus Greek Houses beginning in the fall of 2022.
“The Live-In Graduate Assistants are part of Ric Hall’s ten point plan for fraternities and sororities to provide some additional support over the lived experience that many of our fraternity and sorority members are in as a part of living in their chapter facilities,” said Sara Diem, associate director of fraternity and sorority affairs.
The Live-In Graduate Assistant Program was originally planned to launch in fall 2020, however, it was put on hold due to the closing of the Greek houses during COVID-19, Diem said. Now, the OFSA and Lehigh administration are confident in moving forward with the program.
Diem said it is important that both university figures and chapter leaders are involved with the selection process of who will be living in the Greek facilities.
The program will pair one graduate assistant with each Greek facility. Candidates are to submit applications by March 8, which will be reviewed by the OFSA to ensure each individual meets their qualifications.
The candidates will then be interviewed by OFSA, Housing Services, up to three undergraduate representatives from the chapter and an advisor or staff member from the chapter’s national office, Diem said. Diem said anyone located in the Lehigh Valley pursuing a graduate degree is eligible to apply.
Kevin Yang, ‘24, Theta Chi president said he has mixed feelings about the program.
“It’s a good idea in practice, but I think myself and a lot of other chapters think it’s worrisome at the same time,” Yang said. “If we have an advisor who is supposed to live in the chapter house, how much of a say do they have when it comes to telling us what we can do or not?”
Yang said he was also disappointed to learn the live-in graduate assistant will occupy the president’s suite, as living in the suite was one of the things he most looked forward to as a president.
Karis Jang, ‘23, Kappa Delta president, said she finds it strange that the live-in assistant will be a graduate student considering oftentimes sophomores and juniors occupy the role of Gryphons in other campus housing.
“We have other figures in the house too, like our chef, people from housing, people who come in and check in on us and make sure everything is good,” Jang said. “It is kind of coming into our territory, (although) I understand their concern.”
Jang said Greek houses also have ritual events that are exclusive for members of the chapter. She said she is nervous that having a graduate assistant in the house will partially eliminate that element of exclusivity that is imperative to Greek organizations throughout the country.
Diem said the main idea for the assistants is to provide a peer mentor outside of their organization who residents can feel comfortable approaching with questions, concerns and assistance.
“As people are moving into this slightly more independent structure of living, than living in a residence hall, they still have a strong connection to Lehigh and Lehigh’s resources,” Diem said.
This is a concerning development. I attended Lehigh in the early and later 1980s. After the upheaval of the 1960s, rules had been relaxed or were non-existent on campus generally and at various living quarters on the campus. However, it should be acknowledged the administrators were trying to respect the student’s independence and right to live as they liked, etc. They were to be congratulated, in my opinion, in working with the students, but criticized to a degree perhaps in letting matters go too far in that direction.
I will not go into details, but things were somewhat out of hand back then: the socializing, the drinking… We come to school primarily to learn and to grow (right?) and not to drink.
Yet students still are private individuals. Of course, having an advisor from the university living with you, older and more knowledgeable, in many ways is a good thing. Myself, I always liked the presence of graduate students on campus as it added an air of maturity and oversight. Sara Diem, associate director of fraternity and sorority affairs, notes toward the end of the article that “as people are moving into this slightly more independent structure of living, than living in a residence hall, they [will] still have a strong connection to Lehigh and Lehigh’s resources.” However, this statement seems opposed in spirit to her position that anyone located in the Lehigh Valley pursuing a graduate degree is eligible to apply (for the position of lIve-In graduate assistant).
Additionally, Ms. Diem notes that it is important that both university figures and chapter leaders are involved with the (live-in graduate assistant) selection process, and indeed she says the candidates will be interviewed by Housing Services, student chapter representatives, and an advisor from the national office of the chapter. This is fine, but nevertheless this will seemingly occur after all candidates are screened and interviewed by the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Affairs (OFSA) first.
When does an individual fully enter into his manhood or womanhood…? In the movie Citizen Kane, Mr. Kane did not inherit his money until he was 25. Yet people are naturally different and there are of course variances from a general rule. We want to care for the innocent and young but respect them at the same time so this whole general affair is difficult. Yet I wonder, after swinging too far in the direction of respect in the 1970s and 80s we may be veering too far toward control now.