Monday, September 23, 2019

Summer Spotlight: Vin Albanese

Our current IFC President, Vin Albanese, attended UIFI earlier this summer. Here is his reflection...

This summer, I was fortune to have the opportunity to attend the Undergraduate Interfraternity
Institute (UIFI), which is hosted by the North-American Interfraternity Conference (NIC). The
five-day experience, which was held at the University of Indiana – Bloomington, gave me the
opportunity to connect with numerous fraternity and sorority members from across the country.
The interesting part about the conference was attendees were not necessarily in leadership
positions for their chapters or councils, but included general members simply looking to make a
positive change. Some had just finished their first year of college, and to see them there
participating, searching for ideas, and becoming better leaders was inspiring.

Having been to a few leadership retreats at this point in my college career, I have come to realize
the real value for myself lies in being able to meet new people. This is important to me, because I
am able to learn about their experiences in either a fraternity or sorority at a variety of colleges
and universities. During meals and free time, I took the chance to converse with many of the
facilitators of the event. Facilitators work for various organizations, including National Headquarters, independent companies, or student affairs at certain schools. Speaking with these professionals in our field, taught me a lot about how different schools, such as Purdue or Oklahoma State, are structured and the procedures they have in place to create a meaningful undergraduate Greek experience. I was able to fly home from UIFI knowing I have great friends and resources away from the Lehigh Community should I ever need guidance.




Monday, September 9, 2019

Thursday, September 5, 2019

Pregame Session Information

Attention all students interested in joining a Fraternity or Sorority in Spring 2020!!
In order to participate in spring recruitment, the attendance at ONE session is required. 

Please send all questions to infrasor@lehigh.edu





Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Response to an Anonymous Letter Regarding Greek Life

Dear Lehigh and South Bethlehem community,
Recently we have been made aware of an anonymous letter outlining what appears to be a specific individual’s experience in a Greek organization at Lehigh. The purpose of our letter is not to discredit or deny anything that was written in the anonymous letter. Rather, as council presidents, we would like to acknowledge the fact that there is a cultural problem within the Greek community at Lehigh. We are willing to admit there is truth in these claims. We say this because growth and change will not come from denying the issues that plague our chapters, but rather through acknowledging and confronting the issues head on. As described in the book Leading Change by John P. Kotter, “to create any level of change, a sense of urgency must first be created.” In this case, we thank the anonymous letter for creating a sense of urgency and allowing us the opportunity to openly discuss these issues. We must now challenge ourselves to develop a strategy and vision for this needed culture transition.
With this comes some new changes, as we now have an amazing, new and full staff in the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Affairs who bring fresh perspectives and energy to their roles. Vice Provost for Student Affairs Ric Hall, has a wide range of experience advising Greek chapters of varying interests on different campuses throughout his career. We aim to work closely with him to make our goals come to fruition. We have the Greek EMerging Leaders program that has representation from all of our Greek chapters, where Greek members come together every week to discuss any issues and brainstorm ways to create meaningful change.
We have dedicated, hard-working chapter presidents, who are collaborating to create tremendous growth. We are in the process of developing strong, personal relationships with each president to better meet the needs of each specific chapter and its members. With OFSA’s help, guidance from Dr. Hall and the hard work of our Greek EMerging leaders, chapter presidents and general members, we are confident the Greek community will continue to improve. This will happen not only this year, but in the years to come. 
Furthermore, Greek students are already heavily contributing to many of the positives throughout campus and will continue to do so. They are Student Senate members, Relay for Life participants, Peer Health Advisors, a capella singers and Greek Allies. They do much more than just simply exist in Greek life. Beyond simply having membership in various campus organizations, many hold positions on these executive boards. This demonstrates the willingness of these students to dedicate additional around campus and take on a greater level of responsibility.
Greek Life connects older and younger classes, exposing people to new ideas, majors, career paths and clubs. Members are not only involved in other organizations, but are actually encouraged  by their chapters to become more involved in the Lehigh and South Bethlehem communities. Over 500 Greeks participated in this year’s MOOV-In, eagerly greeting students and parents as they first stepped onto campus in August. This large number of volunteers ensured a smooth and effortless transition to campus for new students and their families.
Greek organizations not only contribute to their national philanthropies, they also volunteer their time through direct service opportunities to help local Bethlehem residents. They do so through programs such as America Reads/ Counts Homework Club Dinners; where chapters cook and deliver dinner for the students in the Community Service Office homework clubs. They are involved with Adopt-a-Family, where chapters provide holiday gifts for lower income South Bethlehem families, in addition to South Side Cleanup, where chapters volunteer on Sunday mornings to work with other campus groups to pick up trash on the streets of our shared South Bethlehem.
With these opportunities, chapters strive to be intentional about service to ensure they are meeting the needs of our local community. As Greeks, we are strong in numbers and have a voice for change. This year, our goal is to foster a way to use our voice to promote a positive, healthy and happy Lehigh and South Bethlehem. As council presidents, we aim for our chapters to add something to both the Lehigh and South Bethlehem Communities, enhance its members’ experiences, and respond to the community voice. We are Greeks, but more importantly, we are leaders with the power to create meaningful change. 
In the end, we do our best to be leaders in creating campus change and being the best version of ourselves possible, and we encourage our brothers and sisters to do the same. More than anything, Greek chapters provide a tremendous support system and chapters truly become a “home away from home.” These are families, and like any other organizations, are far from perfect. So we challenge our fellow Greek members to decide how we will make a change for the betterment of our collective Lehigh and South Bethlehem community.
Sincerely,
Vincent Albanese, Interfraternity Council President
Morgan Gillies, Panhellenic President
Gaby Montes, Cultural Greek Council President

Friday, August 16, 2019

Anonymous Letter Written to OFSA

The attached document was anonymously submitted and is unedited.   The author's summary appears to reflect his/her experience within an IFC or Panhellenic organization.  We are mindful of the broad and diverse nature of the Lehigh Greek community, and believe our students make informed decisions on membership and behavior (to include alcohol consumption), whether they belong to an IFC fraternity, a Panhellenic sorority, a Cultural Greek Council fraternity or sorority, or no Greek letter organization at all.

Rather than present statistics on student alcohol consumption or list the programs and initiatives in place (including timely anonymous reporting mechanisms) to address some, if not all, of the alleged behavior, we encourage the thoughtful dialogue that this post will surely prompt.

We agree with the author's assertion that students and parents should be aware of this person's broad and specific characterizations of our Greek community.  We also understand that while some students/alumni prefer to communicate anonymously, we are always happy to speak with anyone who might want to provide general or specific reflections on their own experiences.

Ricardo Hall
Vice President for Student Affairs

Katherine Lavinder
Dean of Students







Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Message Regarding Chapter & Council Advising Assignments

A message from Chloe Abshire, Assistant Dean/Director of Fraternity and Sorority Affairs -----------

Greetings Fraternity and Sorority community,

On behalf of the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Affairs, we hope you're having a great summer. Our staff is excited to join the Lehigh community and most importantly to begin working with you. We will be sending a variety of updates over the course of the next few weeks, but first and foremost wanted to introduce ourselves and let you know which Assistant Director will be advising your respective Council/Chapter. Feel free to email your new OFSA advisor; their emails are provided below. Olivia Miller starts on August 5th and will begin responding to emails as soon as she gets adjusted. 

Andrew Dorriere (ard519@lehigh.edu)
CouncilPanhellenic Council
Chapters:
Gamma Phi Beta
Pi Beta Phi
Theta Xi
Phi Kappa Theta
Phi Sigma Kappa
Phi Delta Theta
Alpha Epsilon Pi
Lambda Theta Alpha

Devore McIntosh (djm319@lehigh.edu)
CouncilCultural Greek Council
Chapters:
Alpha Phi
Kappa Alpha Theta
Chi Phi
Psi Upsilon
Delta Chi
Sigma Phi Epsilon
Delta Upsilon
Mu Sigma Upsilon

Olivia Miller (olm219@lehigh.edu)
CouncilInterfraternity Council
Chapters:
Alpha Omicron Pi
Zeta Tau Alpha
Kappa Delta
Alpha Gamma Delta
Chi Psi
Theta Chi
Alpha Tau Omega
Kappa Alpha Psi

Monday, July 8, 2019

Important Housing Information

July 8, 2019

Dear Fraternity and Sorority Chapter Presidents and Alumni Corporation Leaders,

We are writing to you as the undergraduate and alumni leadership of fraternities and
sororities that occupy University-owned chapter houses on Lehigh’s campus. For the
alumni corporation leaders, this letter is accompanied by a copy of a newly revised Lease
Agreement for your chapter’s University-owned chapter house. This new Lease
Agreement is provided for your review and signature on behalf of your chapter. The
Lease Agreement must be signed and a signed electronic copy returned to
inhouse@lehigh.edu, with a signed original sent by U.S. Mail to: Housing Services,
Lehigh University, 63 University Drive, Bethlehem, PA 18015 no later than August 7,
2019.

In addition to sending you the new Lease Agreement for your chapter house, we are
writing to alert you to important financial and liability issues impacting your chapters.
As you are no doubt aware, there have been a number of tragedies nationally associated
with fraternity activities. Here in Pennsylvania, the tragic death of Timothy Piazza at
Penn State has created heightened awareness of the potential for dangerous behavior. It
is a stark reminder that the safety of our students must be foremost in our minds, as we
are sure it is in yours, and we all need to continue our work to do all that we create a safe
environment for students.

One of the reasons we are writing is to inform you that, in light of recent events,
insurance companies have re-evaluated their assessment of the risks associated with
insuring Greek organizations. As a result, there is likely to be decreasing availability and
significantly higher costs for insurance coverages as required by your chapter house
Lease Agreements with the University.

In recent years, the University has not uniformly enforced the insurance requirements
under the chapter house Lease Agreements. Some chapters obtained full coverage while
others have not. It is now imperative that each chapter obtains the required insurance
coverages.

Background:

As you may know, throughout the history of Greek chapters occupying University-owned
chapter houses on campus, the University has required each chapter to purchase property
and liability insurance covering its occupancy of the chapter house and to provide
insurance certificates to the University documenting such coverages. These coverages
include property insurance to cover loss or damage that could occur to the property and
liability insurance to cover losses that could be incurred in the event of bodily injury or
death of any individual in or on the property premises or similar type losses caused by
acts or omissions of the chapter occupying the chapter house. For over 20 years, the
required limits of these coverages under the University Lease Agreements with each
chapter has remained the same: a minimum of $1 Million for property insurance and a
minimum of combined general liability insurance limits of $5 Million. During this
period, the Lease Agreements have also always required that such insurance be placed
with an insurance carrier rated A- or better by AM Best Rating Agency and that Lehigh
University be named as an additional insured under the liability policy. It is important to
note that these Lease Agreement provisions require that the chapter must purchase the
required insurance coverages using its own insurance professionals or agents to place
coverages and must pay all insurance premiums from its own chapter funds. The
University does not place or purchase any of these coverages as it is solely the chapter’s
legal responsibility. All of the Lease Agreements with chapters are the same with respect
to the required insurance coverages.

Current Status:

In recent years, it has been a challenge – both financially and from a practical standpoint
– for many chapters to obtain the insurance coverages required under the Lease
Agreement with the University. These challenges have increased significantly in the past
year, with the national insurance market reacting to the increased risks and liabilities
associated with Greek organizations: risks associated with alcohol, including underage
drinking and high risk drinking, and hazing. In Pennsylvania, risk assessments of Greek
organizations and Greek life by insurance underwriters have been particularly stringent
due to recent tragedies: the hazing and alcohol-related death of Timothy Piazza at Penn
State University in 2017 and the hazing death of Chun Hsien Deng, a Baruch College
student, in 2013.

In the past year, some Greek chapters occupying University-owned houses did not have
the insurance coverage amounts required under the Lease Agreement with the University
and were therefore in breach of the Lease Agreement. To date, the University has
chosen not to exercise its rights against these chapters under the Lease Agreement due to
these breaches, while encouraging such chapters to remedy this shortcoming. To protect
the rest of the University, and in fairness to those chapters that have satisfied the
insurance requirements in the Lease Agreements, the University must begin enforcing
them across all chapters. As provided in the Lease Agreements, any decision not to
immediately enforce the insurance provisions and pursue breach remedies does not in any
way waive, reduce, or modify the insurance provisions nor does it change the
University’s right and ability to enforce them strictly at any time in the future.

In view of the current realities of increased risks and liabilities associated with Greek
organizations, the University must take action.

Important Immediate Steps for Each Chapter:

1. Each chapter occupying a University-owned chapter house should immediately
begin communications between its undergraduate chapter leadership, its alumni
corporation leadership and appropriate qualified insurance professionals engaged by the
chapter to assess where the chapter stands with respect to the insurance coverages
required under its Lease Agreement with the University. The chapter and alumni
leadership should inform the chapter’s national organization of the insurance
requirements and ascertain what, if any, assistance the national organization can provide
to the chapter to understand the current insurance market for Greek organizations and
what options may be available to obtain the required insurance coverages now and in the
future.

2. Each fraternity and sorority chapter president should promptly share this letter
with their chapter members. Student undergraduate chapter members should ensure that
they are aware of how much their chapter pays for insurance and should inform their
parents of the insurance requirements applicable to their chapter under the Lease
Agreement. It is important to note that, depending upon the type of insurance coverages
a chapter purchases, and the chapter’s compliance with applicable rules or policies of the
chapter or its national organization as may be required by such insurance policies (e.g.,
policies limiting coverage for events involving alcohol or hazing), individual student
chapter leaders or members may not be personally insured, or insured only to a very
limited extent, under the chapter’s insurance policies. This is very important to know in
light of the fact that in recent hazing and high risk alcohol death and injury lawsuits,
students have been sued individually (both in Pennsylvania and in other states). As a
result, parents of student leaders and members of Greek organizations may want to assess
their own insurance coverages. The University cannot provide advice or assistance on
this issue; each family must seek and obtain any professional advice it needs as to
appropriate insurance coverage for their student.

3. The University is currently assessing the insurance challenges faced by fraternity
and sorority chapters occupying University-owned houses. The University will continue
to assess the situation and possible solutions in the coming months and will communicate
with chapters as the University evaluates the short term and long term implications of
these challenges. As a first step, the University has amended the Lease Agreement
between the University and each fraternity and sorority chapter to reduce the insurance
coverages required under the Lease Agreements to a minimum of $1 Million for property
insurance and a minimum of combined general liability insurance limits of $2 Million
(instead of the current $5 Million). As stated in the Lease Agreement that accompanies
this letter, chapters will be required to deliver to the University certificates of insurance
evidencing the required insurance coverages and limits at least ten (10) days prior to the
August 16th Lease Commencement Date, i.e. no later than August 7, 2019 (and annually
thereafter). The Lease Agreement has been further amended to provide that if a chapter
fails, refuses, or neglects to obtain and produce certificates of insurance evidencing the
required insurance coverages and limits by that date (August 7, 2019), it will be
considered to be in breach of the Lease Agreement and the University will have the right
and the option of immediately terminating the Lease Agreement. In such a situation, the
chapter members will be permitted to continue residing in the chapter house, but there
will be ramifications that may include, but will not be not limited to, the following:
limitation or elimination of the ability to host social events, the chapter house becoming
alcohol-free including individual bedrooms regardless of age of the resident, an impact
on 2019-2020 accreditation for the chapter, and/or other measures as deemed appropriate
by the University under the circumstances to reduce risk and potential liability for the
entire University.

4. As stated in item 1. above, each chapter should immediately begin
communications and preparations between its undergraduate chapter leadership, its
alumni corporation leadership, and appropriate qualified insurance professionals to
prepare to meet the August 7th deadline for obtaining and producing to the University
certificates of insurance evidencing the insurance coverages and limits required under the
new Lease Agreement.

Further Information and Frequently Asked Questions:

• How did the University decide the amount of insurance coverages to require
under the chapter Lease Agreements? Is it necessary to have such high insurance
limit requirements?

Answer: The University determined the insurance coverage requirements after
appropriate assessments and advice from the University’s General Counsel and
Director of Risk Management, assisted by outside legal, risk management, and
insurance professionals engaged by the University. The established insurance
limit requirements have been in place for over 20 years and while the University
is reducing the required liability coverage limit, this change may be of limited
duration and in the future the required insurance coverage limits may need to be
increased in light of the current risk profile of fraternities and sororities and
increased liabilities associated with the activities of Greek organizations; i.e., the
risks associated with alcohol including underage drinking and high risk drinking,
and hazing.

• Would it be more effective and less costly for the University to obtain all
necessary insurance coverages for each fraternity and sorority chapter?

Answer: While the University continues to explore viable options to protect the
University, the fraternity and sorority chapters that occupy University-owned
chapter houses are separate legal entities with separate insurable interests; they
are not part of the University or its operations. These chapters and their alumni
corporations therefore must obtain and maintain separate insurance coverages to
protect their respective insurable assets and interests against losses or liabilities
arising from their members’ acts and omissions.

• Why isn’t it sufficient if a fraternity’s or sorority’s national organization has
insurance? Can’t the national organization’s insurance coverages protect Lehigh?

Answer: The national fraternity or sorority organizations’ respective insurance
programs will provide some liability coverage for a local chapter and/or alumni
corporation, but the level of liability insurance coverage will vary from group to
group. This coverage may also be limited to the undergraduate chapter and
individuals residing in the University-owned chapter house.

• Can the University provide advice and assistance to chapters in their obtaining
and negotiating insurance coverages and premiums?

Answer: No, since fraternity and sorority chapters are independent legal entities
that exist and are governed separately from the University, it is inappropriate from
a legal standpoint for the University to provide insurance advice and assistance to
chapters. Each chapter must obtain advice and assistance from appropriate
professionals (e.g., legal counsel, insurance brokers and agents, etc.) who have the
expertise and legal or professional relationship with the chapter to assess the
chapter’s status, liability profile, finances, governance structure, and other factors
to provide appropriate advice and assistance in procuring insurance.

In closing, we need to emphasize that the health and safety of all Lehigh students is
paramount. The University’s requirement that fraternity and sorority chapters occupying
University-owned houses purchase insurance coverages has been a requirement for
decades and constitutes the University administration’s appropriate exercise of its legal
responsibilities and fiduciary duties to ensure that there is adequate insurance for
potential losses and liabilities that could arise from activities on the University’s campus.
The current insurance market for Greek organizations reflects that such organizations
have acted, and failed to act, in ways that create significant financial liabilities for the
organizations, the University, and students personally. Insurance is a financial product
purchased to transfer risk and obtain reimbursement for losses and liabilities and the cost
and availability of insurance are indicators of the perceived magnitude of risks and
likelihood of losses and liabilities. Insurance does nothing to reimburse for, or provide
recovery for the loss of a student’s life or the impact of a life-changing injury caused by
high risk drinking or hazing or other high risk behaviors.

The University emphatically urges all fraternity and sorority chapters to assess, both
immediately and on a continuing basis, their activities, policies, and values to identify
changes that are necessary to ensure that its members are not exposed to risks to their
health, safety, and life.

Sincerely,
Dr. Ricardo Hall, Vice President for Student Affairs
Ozzie Breiner, Director, Housing Services
Frank Roth, General Counsel