Greek Life During a Pandemic

By Krista Ritz

Virtual class adjustments and campus restrictions have affected numerous school organizations, with one of the most impacted organizations on Youngstown State University’s campus being Greek life. Student leaders and Student Activities discuss changes to Greek life amid a pandemic.

Carrie Anderson, associate director of Student Activities, oversees more than 200 organizations on campus, including all fraternities and sororities, and believes that modifications to student organizations are ahead.

“Sorority recruitment will be fully virtual,” Anderson said. “It would be the same with fraternities. Instead of them necessarily having events or different things going on, they’re going to be able to meet on a virtual platform.” 

Anderson is eager for student activities on campus to return to normal as soon as the restrictions lift.

“The coronavirus has changed the way we’re going to think about programming moving forward, of course,” she said. “If they clear everything, then we would want to be able to get back to some of our things as usual.” 

Like Anderson, Mary Fitch, president of Alpha Omicron Pi, embraces the new adjustments to the schedule with her sorority sisters.

“The biggest changes will be our social events,” Fitch said. “Usually we have mixers, so you get to meet members of other fraternities and sororities. We might be able to do this, but it won’t be the same.” 

Last year, events like “Bachelor Night” brought fraternities and sororities together for a viewing party of the hit reality show “The Bachelor.” Now, in-person events could be difficult to plan as students are expected to remain socially distant from one another.

Members of Sig Tau Gamma fraternity in 2019 during recruitment. Photo Courtesy of Clay Miller

Going forward, each event will be based on capacity. If the potential group gathering is small enough, there will be a better chance for members to get together face-to-face. Larger groups will join a Zoom call for activities. 

As Greek Life adjusts to a new normal, Clay Miller, president of the Beta Gamma Chapter of Sigma Tau Gamma, discussed restrictions within his fraternity house and fall recruitment.

“One of the main things is talking about how many guests we can have over,” he explained. “We are going to limit that kind of stuff. We don’t want our house to be as much of a hub as it usually is.”

 

It may be harder for fraternities to recruit new members as less students take traditional classes, but Miller is still optimistic about membership.

“I think it is fair to assume as an entire [interfraternity council], we will likely see a decrease in recruitment, specifically within our own chapter,” he said. “Does that mean that we will recruit less? No. I think any chapter does still have a shot at recruiting the same [number of], if not more, members than we recruited the previous fall semester.”

Although Greek life faces new challenges this year, members remain hopeful for the upcoming semester. Both the fraternities and sororities plan to join together as a community of leaders in support of one another.

 

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