On January 28, 2020, President John Simon and Vice President for Student Affairs Ricardo Hall sent
you a message instituting a “pause” for Lehigh’s Panhellenic and Interfraternity Council chapters,
restricting chapter activities, including interactions with new (and prospective new) members. The
pause was a necessary call to action for a Greek community that had become increasingly desensitized to the prevalence of behaviors that were both dangerous and antithetical to the principles upon which all of our Greek letter organizations were originally founded.
I am writing to provide a status update. To be direct, the decision was in no way made as a means to
end, terminate or disband fraternities and sororities at Lehigh. Rather, it was a necessary action taken
to preserve and enhance chapters’ ability to sustain under the guidelines and policies expected of the
fraternity and sorority member organizations operating on our campus. This “pause” never indicated
the suspension of fraternities and sororities at Lehigh, nor should it be interpreted as a means to
eliminate the valuable and historical fraternity and sorority community we take great pride in. Further, there is no plan to close or repurpose our fraternity and sorority houses (the physical structures) and no plan to permanently suspend or end Greek life at Lehigh (the community comprised of IFC, Panhellenic, and CGC chapters.)
Instead, this “pause” is an intentional investment in the future of Lehigh’s fraternity and sorority community and an opportunity to challenge its members to rise above the status quo. To do nothing would have allowed potentially harmful behavior to continue within the new member experiences of those aspiring to become members of our fraternity and sorority community. To do nothing would have continued a cycle that has seen a steady decline in interest, membership, and departure of chapters from our campus. To deny the need for a “pause” would have also ignored the opportunity it offered.
It is also important to note that a similar interruption of Greek recruitment took place in January 2019, after the university became aware of community wide hazing-related behaviors. Then, our chapters expressed a commitment to address and change the behavior, and Greek activities resumed. Now, it is clear that the commitment has not been honored. A primary objective of the current “pause” will be the identification of an agreed upon sustainable solution.
Since March 2019, students, and OFSA staff, have actively engaged in discussion, planning, and
execution of a 10-point plan for Greek excellence. In addition, the current OFSA staff has provided
programming, education, and support in the interest of fostering Greek excellence among our chapters and councils. Relevant educational programs facilitated by OFSA this academic year include:
● OFSA facilitated the annual curriculum-based retreat, Base Camp. 45 fraternity and sorority
leaders, including both chapter and council officers, were in attendance. Base Camp focused
on relationship building, leadership development, identifying areas of opportunity and creating
● Social Host Training is offered at the start of the academic year and chapters are required to
send designated members. Social Host Training is facilitated by OFSA and designed to
educate chapter presidents, risk managers, and social chairs (or equivalent leadership
positions) on effective event planning practices; laws and policies related to social host liability;
and harm reduction strategies. The chapters are provided ample resources and guidance to
succeed. Resources can be found on our website under Social Host Resources.
● In November, OFSA hosted the inaugural Recruitment Chair and New Member Education
Institute. The institute was attended by over 100 student leaders both current, incoming and
outgoing officers serving in the leadership roles of Chapter President, Recruitment Chair and
New Member Educator. The institute included a mix of general sessions and breakout
sessions. General sessions included “New Wave Generation: Transparency in the joining
process and developing a sense of belonging” and “Has Greek Peaked?” Breakout sessions
were specifically geared toward officer positions within each council. At the start and end of the
institute, attendees participated in an Elevator Pitch activity, each chapter giving a 30-second
pitch to their peers on the purpose of their organization, the benefit of membership and the pride
they take as a member of their organization. All sessions were tailored toward improving
practices and discovering ways better facilitate recruitment and new member education.
Throughout the current “pause”, I have remained in contact with President Simon and Dr. Hall. We
agree that Greek life has been an important component of Lehigh’s ethos since 1872 and look forward to what a new era following the efforts of the students will look like. I have also been meeting regularly with the Council Presidents and with my staff, who continue to directly advise their council and chapters. We have been encouraged by the commitment demonstrated by our students.
Just two days after the “pause” was announced, a delegation of 11 students from all three councils,
joined by two OFSA staff, attended the annual Association of Fraternal Leadership and Values
conference in Indianapolis, from January 30 – February 2. AFLV “exists to accelerate progress in
fraternity/sorority communities through change-enabling experiences.’ This conference couldn’t have
come at a better time, as it offered an opportunity for Lehigh’s fraternity and sorority leaders to have
exposure to peers from around the country and benchmark best practices to implement in our
community. As a result of attending AFLV, students began to acknowledge their potential both as a
leader and as a community, truly broadening their ability to have a lasting, positive impact.
Feedback from the delegation following AFLV included:
● The knowledge I gained that was most important was... "Understanding the impact of fraternity
and sorority life, especially talking with other schools and learning about their Greek life. It was
really empowering and hopeful to hear the success stories and meeting all of the people who
support and believe in Greek life."
● I was most challenged by... "Acknowledging that my school’s greek life isn’t as diverse as I
● My favorite aspect of AFLV was... "It was organized really well and the workshops were very well thought out and relevant. It brings a large and diverse range of communities which allows
us a lot of different perspectives."
● The most meaningful moment at AFLV was... "Sitting in a room in the first general session with
over 3500 Greek affiliated people knowing that if their Greek community can thrive, so can
Prior to writing this update, I received drafted versions of the IFC Plan and the Panhellenic Plan. I have been impressed by their ability to identify the specific elements contributing to the concerning behaviors inhibiting them from being a community of excellence. Panhellenic offered an open meeting for all fraternity and sorority students on Thursday, February 6th, and will be offering another on Thursday, February 13th. IFC has continued to discuss this matter at their weekly IFC meetings and as an executive council. I will be working with the councils to provide feedback as they continue to work through implementation of their plans. The key elements we are working on currently include ironing out a detailed timeline and accountability plan.
The efforts I have seen from student leaders has led me to believe that if all goes according to plan, the pause should be lifted prior to the first week of March. President Simon and Dr. Hall are in agreement. Given the demonstrated action and cooperation of students, this allows me to believe that there will be a resolution well in advance of the March 17th housing lottery for rising second year students begins,which we know is a deadline at the top of our students’ and families’ minds.
Lastly, OFSA will be hosting a Summit for Headquarters February 24th & 25th. National headquarters have been invited to campus to participate in a summit which will allow us the opportunity to bring national leadership to the table in an effort to strengthen our partnerships and collectively support this community to the best of our ability. This summit will allow us to identify specific areas of opportunity and action steps that will need to take place as we continue to support the community moving forward.
Please be encouraged to continue to use the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Affairs as a resource
during the pause. While we are aware this pause may feel like a time of limbo for some of our students, families, and even alumni, much progress is being made. We look forward to the positive outcomes and future growth of the fraternity and sorority community at Lehigh that will be a direct result of this vital and collaborative effort.
Assistant Dean/Director of Fraternity and Sorority Affairs
Office of Fraternity and Sorority Affairs
University Center B013
Below are a few of the points of clarification that were shared with Chapter Presidents, Chapter
Advisors and Headquarters staff on Friday, January 31st.
Communication with Panhellenic New Members and IFC Aspiring New Members
Panhellenic new members and IFC aspiring new members received additional communication from our office on Tuesday, January 28th following the message from Dr. Ric Hall and President Simon. We have received some questions about what constitutes communication with new members and aspiring new members, and recognize the need to clarify the language used in our earlier messages; please note that the expectations set forth in the message sent on Tuesday is specific to the Panhellenic new member and IFC aspiring new member experience, communication with and interactions based upon organizational affiliations and aspirations. Certainly class, religious, and outside activity unrelated to organization engagement requires interaction.
Student Organization Conduct Records
Please visit this link to see the most up to date information from the Office of Student Conduct
regarding any pending cases and current organization statuses: Student Organization Conduct
Records. Lehigh University’s commitment to transparency regarding organizational conduct is
unchanged and we will post updates on investigations as that information becomes available.
Dues/New Member Dues/Financial Obligations
It is our understanding that the paying/billing process is an internal relationship that exists between
members, chapters and inter/national headquarters, and is subject to written and signed agreements
among them. Lehigh is not involved in that financial relationship and also isn't a party to those
agreements. For this reason, should an inter/national headquarters need to proceed forward with the
financial obligations made prior to the pause in order to fulfill agreements that exist with a new member, this would not be deemed a violation of the pause. In other words, inter/national headquarters may communicate with new members. Should new members or parents of new members have questions related to paying new member dues during the pause, those questions should be directed to their respective inter/national headquarters office.
Service done in conjunction with the Community Service Office (CSO) may continue for active
members only, new members and aspiring members cannot participate. The South Bethlehem
community relies heavily on the service done in partnership with the CSO and community partners.
Contributing to the CSO after-school snack packs counts as a service initiative done in partnership with CSO and is therefore permitted during the pause should a chapter choose to participate. Other
service-oriented opportunities will be reviewed on a case by case basis in partnership with CSO staff.
Philanthropy events for the purposes of fundraising monies should be postponed during the pause.
The hope is that the pause is lifted sooner rather than later so that chapters can thrive in an
environment that is safe and meets the purposes we are designed to fulfill. We look forward to
reviewing the efforts put forth by the community and expect that this pause will allow our fraternity and sorority community, including IFC, Panhellenic, and CGC, to reflect and work together towards change. With that being said, chapters with Philanthropy events scheduled to take place in the month of February and early March should attempt to reschedule their event for a later date in the semester.
Chapters and councils are working with their respective Assistant Director to notify OFSA when they
are planning to have a business meeting. We have requested minutes or a summary of the business
meeting be shared with their respective Assistant Director following the business meeting as a way to
ensure that chapters are conducting business that is in compliance with the expectations outlined in the pause. Should an inter/national headquarters office have the need to conduct business with their
chapter at Lehigh, that is absolutely appropriate and would be considered chapter-related business.
We would like to be informed when this is happening, as we would like to have the opportunity to meet with inter/national headquarters staff visiting our campus. Please note: Chapters on Temporary
Suspension are not permitted to have business meetings.
We are encouraging chapters to review the Holmes Murphy resource provided below. This resource
has continued to aid us in our conversations with chapter leaders as we discuss what may be deemed
as a chapter event. Some are still of the impression that a chapter event is any event, activity or
moment when 4 or more members are present. This resource can assist chapters in making decisions
on what may constitute a chapter event or activity outside of the parameters outlined in the expectation on the pause. Please remember that events and activities can be considered a chapter event whether they occur on or off campus property and on or off chapter premises.
What Constitutes An Event (Holmes Murphy)