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Greek Week returns with a new purpose

The typical impression of Greek Week as five days of fun, frivolity and friendly competition is undergoing a transformation, as is the sometimes controversial event.

Following a Greek Week in spring of 2009 that was marred by what university administrators and Greek participants agreed was “unacceptable behavior,” the office of fraternity and sorority affairs (OFSA) met with Greek governing councils, decided to suspend the annual event for one year, and asked Greek chapters on campus to reevaluate the popular Lehigh tradition and assess its purpose, content and timing.

During the hiatus, the three Greek governing councils—Panhellenic, the Inter-Fraternity Council and the Multicultural Greek Council—worked with the dean of students office and OFSA to convene a committee of students, faculty and staff to examine and address the issues.

The result is a reconstituted Greek Week that administrators say will be more inclusive, and more purpose- and values-driven.

“The students on the Re-visioning Greek Week Committee truly embraced the call to reassess and recreate Greek Week and to become catalysts of change,” said Michelle Rebholz, who co-chaired the committee with fellow Greek life coordinator Veronica Hunter.

“They went into the process with an open mind, benchmarked successful Greek Weeks at universities across the country, and made tough decisions regarding storied events and traditions.”

Emphasizing the “core values” of Greek life

According to OFSA director Tim Wilkinson, the new Greek Week will be a time for Lehigh’s fraternities and sororities to show off their pride and respect for the community.

“The fraternity and sorority community continues to learn about the positive effect their impact can have on the university community when chapters come together with shared inter-fraternal spirit,” Wilkinson said. “Our expectation is that Greek Week becomes a symbol of that spirit.”

With events centering on shared Greek values of scholarship, leadership, citizenship, partnership and stewardship, Greek Week events will utilize a Core Competencies Skill Development Map in creation and assessment.

The OFSA also consulted with members of Lehigh’s Council for Equity and Community, which reviewed the revised plan in early September.

Major changes include the addition of a Greek Week conduct policy and behavioral contract, the scheduling of events on the Asa Packer campus rather than at individual houses, holding team-based chapter competitions instead of individual contests, and the participation of faculty and staff advisers in events.

Wednesday, September 22, has also been designated as Philanthropy and Community Service Day. Team members will take part in a service event and raise funds for a philanthropy chosen by the winning team.

“I am proud of the students and colleagues who accepted the challenge to transform Greek Week into a series of events that focus on the core values of fraternity and sorority life,” says John Smeaton, vice provost for student affairs.

Additional details of the plan and a schedule of events can be found at the OFSA website.

 

Story by Linda Harbrecht

Posted on Friday, September 17, 2010

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