Kenneth C. Zirkel
Over the weekend, fraternities and sororities at Lehigh University were allowed to resume normal activity following a month-long hiatus after reports of hazing, alcohol violations, and drug abuse prompted the administration to “pause” all Greek life on campus in January.
The organizations were reinstated after members of the Panhellenic, Interfraternity Council (IFC) and Cultural Greek Councils submitted a proposal for enhancing the school’s Greek life culture, according to a report by the Morning Call. Last year, school administrators submitted a different ten-point plan for improvement following hazing allegations against all 13 IFC Greek chapters on the Lehigh campus, which included a ban on hard alcohol and additional faculty advisors to the campus’s chapters.
At the time of the ten-point plan, the Brown and White reported that school administrators were focusing on “a way forward” for Greek life rather than acting on the hazing allegations.
Lehigh, which is well known for its Greek activity, is approaching its 100th anniversary of Greek organizations on campus in 2022. Though the total number of organizations has dropped since 2015, Lehigh still has 22.6 percent of their undergrad population—over a thousand students—involved in Greek life. At Lafayette, the numbers are even higher: 39 percent of students eligible to rush are members of Greek life.
In the past year, there have been alleged violations by four of Lafayette’s Greek organizations, but the college has not been forced to suspend all Greek activity in over two decades. School officials say an outright halt is unlikely, and that most suspensions operate on a case-by-case basis.
When the Lehigh suspension was first put in place, Vice President of Student Life Annette Diorio told the Lafayette that the college “has occasionally and typically in conjunction with the National Headquarters, temporarily stopped activities of individual groups to investigate allegations…and if we verify any violations of policy, we develop a plan that includes sanctions aimed at altering the behavior of the group.”
Sanctions have included social suspensions and educational measures placed on several organizations following reports of hazing, early bids and other undisclosed transgressions, but never an outright pause.
Following the resignation of Daniel Ayala, former Associate Director of Student Involvement, Director of Student Involvement Vanessa Pearson has temporarily taken over the responsibilities as the administrative liaison to Greek life that Ayala previously filled. Ayala was responsible for reporting sanctions to Greek organizations and working with them during investigations.
Pearson wrote in an email that she is “optimistic” the school will hire a new associate director by early May.
“I have been meeting with chapter presidents and will be setting up meetings with Philanthropy Chairs, Scholarship/Academic Chairs, and other members of the chapter leadership teams to provide support,” she wrote. “I will also be meeting with Panhellenic and IFC to provide assistance and support to the work they are doing.”
“My door is always open, and I encourage anyone who has questions, concerns, or thoughts on ways to enhance the student experience,” she added.