Lehigh welcomes around 1,500 first-year students to campus every August. With the arrival of these newly independent freshmen comes the responsibility of addressing their safety.
Christopher Mulvihill, associate dean of students, said the key to freshmen safety on campus lies within the tight-knit community Lehigh provides for students.
He said the first six weeks of school are busy ones for the Office of Student Conduct because freshmen are learning to adjust.
“First-year students are learning how to behave without the direct intervention of their parents — they are learning what is acceptable and what is not,” Mulvihill said.
Mulvihill said the conduct office tends to primarily interact with freshman and sophomore students, however, he said only 10 to 12 percent of students get in trouble with the conduct office in their time at Lehigh.
He said learning from mistakes is a part of the college experience, and one of the most beneficial ways for first-year students to learn is through their peers.
Orientation Leaders (OLs) and Gryphons present important peer role models on Lehigh’s campus.
Mulvihill said when he talks to OLs and Gryphons, he tells them to teach the freshmen what they learned to be safe at Lehigh.
OL Dominica Glenn, ‘25, said it is easy for freshmen to forget about safety because they are so focused on and excited about having fun.
“As orientation leaders, we need to stress important points,” Glenn said. “We show them from our perspective what to do and what not to do.”
Glenn said she stresses the importance of the buddy system, the blue light system and which areas to avoid walking alone in when talking to new students.
Glenn said OLs should be seen as friends and people who freshmen can reach out to about things they wouldn’t necessarily want to talk to an adult about.
Noor Musharraf, ‘23, one of Lehigh’s head Gryphons, said a Gryphon’s role in freshman dorms is to be a mentor and resource for students.
“Gryphons are always supposed to be there to support,” Musharraf said. “That’s the main priority.”
She said Gryphons should not be authoritative figures to freshmen in order to provide an environment in which they feel comfortable, creating relationships.
Musharraf said in order to become a Gryphon, a student must have experienced at least one semester at Lehigh, so that they are more experienced and knowledgeable of campus than a first-year student.
Mulvihill said it is evident that Lehigh students really care about one another and are welcoming to the freshmen, which plays an important role in freshmen feeling safe on campus.
Morgan Wright, ‘26, said she noticed in her first few weeks of school people already started looking out for her.
“A really distinct part of the Lehigh experience is that everyone wants to get to know the freshmen,” Wright said. ”I feel like I can rely on those people for help.”