Almost 60 years ago, a group of 40 undergraduate men at Lehigh established a campus “living group” to provide social functions for its members. These students petitioned the Committee on Social Activities for recognition and thus the Gryphon Society was founded. In Greek mythology, Gryphons were winged beasts, half lion and half eagle, who were keepers of the gold. At Lehigh, Gryphons are still keepers of the gold, though a different kind. A Gryphon is Lehigh University’s version of a Resident Assistant (RA), who lives in residence halls with other students, aka the “gold.” Gryphons serve to promote “an inclusive, supportive, and engaging environment in the residence halls.”
Fast forward to today, the Gryphon role has expanded to serve as advocates, mentors, role models, policy enforcers, administrators, programmers, resources, and leaders for the students residing in all first-year and upperclassmen residence halls. Since its inception, the Gryphon Society has doubled in size to approximately 102 Gryphons, 12 of which are Head Gryphons. Head Gryphons are resident student staff leaders who work closely with their Assistant Director (AD), assisting in administrative duties in regard to the daily operations of their residence hall in addition to their general Gryphon duties.
Gryphons do more than just stay on duty weeknights and weekends or help with lockouts. Gryphons are tasked with creating educational and inclusive communities with the members of their residence halls known as Community Development Experiences (CDEs). Gryphons are trained to assist their residents with roommate conflicts, lockouts, emergencies, illness, and other issues, as well as finding the appropriate resources to help in other situations. Throughout the year, the Gryphon Society sponsors CDEs in the residence halls such as coffee talks, tutoring, hall events, community dinners, and campus events, like the annual Rock the Quad in spring. Community Dinners will often feature food from a local restaurant along with a faculty or staff member, student leader, alumni, or Bethlehem community member to talk about a particular topic.
G-chats, short for Gryphon chats, are one-on-one conversations between a Gryphon and their resident. These chats give residents the opportunity to ask questions, work out an issue, share ideas, express concerns, or just get to know their Gryphon better.
Applications to become a Gryphon the following school year become available in the fall and interviews are held after students return from winter break. Prospective students must hold a 2.5 GPA and be in good disciplinary standing with the university. In addition to free room and board, plus a stipend, students chosen for the role of a Gryphon gain excellent leadership, communication, and teamwork skills.