Lehigh University
Lehigh University

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Fraternity misses occupancy requirement

After failing to meet the 90 percent occupancy standard required of all Greek houses for three semesters in a row, Alpha Chi Rho fraternity will lose its on-campus housing privileges, Lehigh officials recently announced.

The fraternity has the option of becoming a non-residential chapter pending adjudication of disciplinary charges for falsification of records.

“Chapter members are first and foremost Lehigh students and the university is committed to assisting them and their families during this difficult time,” says Vice Provost for Student Affairs John Smeaton. “Staff members have met with the members of the chapter and offered assistance, and we will do what we can to support them. Our top priority is to get the students settled into new housing and allow them to refocus on their academic priorities early in the semester.”

The 90 percent occupancy standard policy emerged from the more than 40 recommendations outlined in January 2004 by the Strengthening Greek Life Task Force, which was created in February 2003. The recommendations have been implemented by a strong partnership of Greek actives, alumni, and the administration. After missing the occupancy standard for three consecutive semesters, Alpha Chi Rho had been in a “grace” period to recruit more live-in members for the spring 2007 semester.

Alpha Chi Rho first fell below the occupancy standard in Fall 2005 and after three consecutive semesters below the standard, they entered their final semester grace period. In this grace period, Alpha Chi Rho had until Dec. 8, 2006 to demonstrate that it would be able to meet the 90 percent occupancy standard and have all new members committed to living in the facility for the spring 2007 semester. All new members who were fully initiated by the deadline date would count toward occupancy.

The university’s Office of Fraternity and Sorority Affairs (OFSA) has worked closely with Alpha Chi Rho over this period to strengthen the chapter’s efforts in recruitment, occupancy and other related areas and was led to believe that the fraternity had recruited enough members who had been initiated into brotherhood. As a result, the OFSA thought that the chapter had successfully achieved 90 percent occupancy.

On Jan. 9, the OFSA received information that at least four of the five new chapter brothers were members in name only and were not—nor ever intended to be—initiated into the fraternity. In light of this new information, Alpha Chi Rho Fraternity has a 76 percent occupancy for the spring 2007 semester, failing to meet the occupancy standard.

Information about Lehigh’s 90 percent Occupancy Policy is available on the OFSA Web site.

Given their failure to meet stated occupancy standards, it will be necessary for the chapter membership to move out of the Alpha Chi Rho house by noon on Wednesday, Jan. 24. Twelve sophomore brothers have already selected rooms in on-campus housing given the university’s policy requiring all first- and second-year students to reside on campus. Junior and senior brothers who wish to consider on-campus housing have been encouraged to contact the Office of Residential Services.

“A strong and healthy Greek system is an asset to Lehigh’s campus. It is the reason we undertook the Strengthening Greek Life initiative, and it is why we work so closely with all of Lehigh’s chapters throughout the year,” Smeaton says. “We want our students to have a positive living and learning environment, and we work in partnership with undergraduate and alumni leaders who are deeply committed to seeing Lehigh’s Greek system become one of the finest in the country.”

Smeaton adds that the university community has been very successful thus far in helping the Greek life system become stronger and healthier than it was two years ago, but that Lehigh cannot afford complacency. Actives, alumni, and university leadership must be committed to excellence in all dimensions of Greek life.

In keeping with the spirit of openness that has been crucial to the success of the Strengthening Greek Life efforts, the university is working, in cooperation with the Alpha Chi Rho National Fraternity, to keep all involved groups apprised of the situation.

Posted on Tuesday, January 16, 2007

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