Lehigh’s Interfraternity Council plans to expand its membership by two fraternities over the next two years — one fraternity will be established on campus in spring 2024 and the second will join in spring 2026.
Sara Runyon, director of student involvement, said staff from the national headquarters of the five potential additions will visit campus to share information about their organization with the campus community to decide who will join.
The first to present was Alpha Sigma Phi on Sept. 19. Following them will be Lambda Chi Alpha on Sept. 27, Pi Kappa Phi on Oct. 2, Beta Theta Pi on Oct. 3 and Pi Lambda Phi on Oct. 4.
The representatives will present in Room 091 in the Rauch Business Center at 4:45 p.m. on the above dates. The meetings are open to all members of the Lehigh community interested in learning more about the visions of these organizations, their purposes at Lehigh and what a potential member could expect.
“They’ll have a chance to meet with students in small groups, a chance to meet with some staff members at Lehigh, a chance to meet with housing services and tour what would be potential future facilities available to them,” Runyon said.
A survey will be provided to all attendees at the conclusion of the presentations for their chance to share feedback about the organizations, including any benefits they believe the fraternities might provide to the Lehigh community. She said these results will be taken into consideration as the Interfraternity Council expansion committee reviews each fraternity.
Runyon said the Interfraternity Council organizations will be the ones who ultimately vote on who is invited to join Lehigh.
She said the Office of Student Involvement, previously the separate Office of Sorority and Fraternity Affairs and Office of Student Engagement, began the process of fraternity expansion after the Interfraternity Council indicated interest in March.
Although interest in Greek life has remained, Runyon said the number of fraternities at Lehigh has decreased, resulting in limited options.
The Interfraternity Council expansion committee was formed in late March to carry out the expansion.
Runyon said the committee is made up of an undergraduate member of each of the existing Interfraternity Council fraternities on campus, two representatives from the Interfraternity Council executive board, one Fraternity and Sorority Life staff member, a staff member from housing services selected by the students on the committee, and two other Lehigh staff members.
She said an announcement inviting applications was made through the North American Interfraternity Conference, the international organization behind Lehigh’s Interfraternity Council.
Lehigh Greeks, the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Affairs’s blog, posted a copy of the announcement on April 5, opening applications for the expansion of the Interfraternity Council to any interested organizations, with preference given to organizations that existed at Lehigh in the past.
The committee received 22 application packets, which Runyon said was more than anticipated. They reviewed the options through May, June and the first half of July.
“The committee selected five organizations that the folks on the committee — but really largely the students more than anybody — felt were going to offer the most meaningful, most helpful, most in line with Lehigh values programming and experience to people who maybe will eventually be a part of that fraternity at Lehigh,” Runyon said.
All of the fraternities selected, except Pi Kappa Phi, had previously been active on Lehigh’s campus and either left or were removed by Lehigh or the national headquarters. The most recent is Lambda Chi Alpha, which was dissolved from Lehigh in 2014.
Runyon said the committee also considered what the fraternities’ departure from campus was like, including the cooperation of their headquarters and the staff supporting them.
The committee asked returning fraternities about chapter expectation changes and approaches for such changes for chapters from the national organizations.
“I think part of why these organizations were selected was because they answered that in a way that felt really appropriate,” Runyon said. “There was some really intentional thought process going into who will support this organization, both from staff at the national organization and also from potential alumni who will serve as advisers or on an advisory board.”
The final decision on which fraternities will be selected and established first will depend on the availability of supporting staff or volunteers from the national organizations.
Danny Miller, senior director of prevention and accountability at Alpha Sigma Phi, expressed the fraternity’s interest in joining Lehigh’s campus in spring 2024. He outlined a two-part plan spanning 16 weeks for integration on Lehigh’s campus headed by fraternity-paid staff.
He said the organization’s goal is to recruit a minimum of 35-40 members and to remain on campus until they have a sustainable presence.
“We will not create an experience for them where they are struggling right at the onset,” Miller said. “We want them to have the resources to be successful.”
Staff from the selected fraternities will be recruiting students from all class years for their inaugural class, Runyon said, especially those in leadership roles, studying a variety of subjects or involved with Lehigh in other capacities such as being a Gryphon or orientation leader.
The staff and local alumni of the fraternity will onboard new members and help the chapter through the process of getting established at Lehigh, Runyon said, including appointing an executive board and further preparing them to run the organization.
The task ahead for the inaugural class seems daunting for Aidan Lee, ‘26, an Interfraternity Council representative for Phi Sigma Kappa. He said he is concerned about the balance between Greek and non-Greek communities and the balance between sororities and fraternities.
“I like seeing Lehigh’s Greek community expand, but I think there’s a limit to how much it should expand because it’s already a pretty fraternity-dominant school in terms of the culture here,” Lee said.
He said a lot of fraternity culture and operation is built on tradition, and starting from scratch, especially for upperclassmen who might not have experience with Greek life, will take a lot of sacrifice.
“If I was an upperclassman, I would want no part of a new fraternity,” Lee said.
Catherine Wilbur, ‘26, a member of the Panhellenic community, said the addition of the fraternities would benefit the community at Lehigh, especially considering the recent increase in fraternities being removed from campus.
“Some people want to join Greek life and haven’t found a place where they really fit in, so I think adding new fraternities would be a great opportunity for new people to get involved,” Wilbur said.
Runyon said any students interested in joining the new fraternities should email [email protected] for more information, and the office will also help anyone interested in Cultural Greek Council expansion.