Greek life chapters are turning to online platforms this fall to engage with current and prospective members about events and recruitment programming.
Interfraternity Council and Panhellenic Association chapter leaders said they are moving their spring recruitment and fall fundraising efforts to online platforms like Zoom in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. They said the transition has been “difficult” as they’ve needed to cancel in-person events like fundraisers, but chapters will push some events to the spring and hold virtual programming this fall like a poker night and Zoom parties.
Anne Graham, the director of student involvement and leadership, said Greek housing is closed to chapter members this semester. She said the Division for Student Affairs hosted the Our Purpose Leadership Summit, a virtual one-day program for executive members of all four Greek organizations to prepare for the year, which more than 100 chapter executives attended earlier this fall.
Graham said all four Greek councils – the Panhellenic Association, Interfraternity Council, Multicultural Greek Council and National Pan-Hellenic Council – will hold recruitment virtually in both the fall and the spring.
“The Division for Student Affairs will support the councils in their virtual recruitment and intake efforts through ongoing advising support, sharing of national best practices and trends and the development of specialized training and resources related to virtual recruitment and virtual programming,” Graham said in an email.
Senior Jose Salazar, the president of Tau Kappa Epsilon, said he canceled the chapter’s first Diversity in Greek Life event, where scholars were scheduled to speak about “representation and diversity” within Greek chapters. He said he hopes to reschedule the event for the spring.
Salazar said the chapter began garnering interest in recruitment Sunday, setting up a virtual table at the Fraternity and Sorority Life organization fair and hosting a virtual “Meet the Brothers” of TKE. He said recruitment leaders have been reaching out to freshmen and sophomores on social media to invite them to their weekly poker games and Mario Kart nights so they can meet prospective members.
“One of the things that we’re really pushing is engagement with the brothers, and that’s why we have so many different events available to brothers throughout the week,” Salazar said. “Just come on for 30 minutes, an hour, whatever you can, and just be with the guys that you get to call brothers.”
Junior Sami Walley, the vice president of Sigma Delta Tau, said chapter members have had to brainstorm new philanthropy events in place of SDT’s in-person fundraisers, like its fall buffet-style “Eat your Way” event for Prevent Child Abuse America. She said the chapter is adjusting its fundraising efforts to “Venmo board” graphics, CrowdChange, an online raffle and UniversityTees, a custom Greek apparel site, to motivate students to participate.
She said the chapter will host programming on diversity and inclusion, mental health awareness, sexual assault awareness and substance abuse prevention throughout the fall with events like bias seminars. She said the chapter has been working with its national headquarters to produce a presentation on allyship Wednesday, focusing on the history of Greek life and addressing systemic racial issues to better support Black, Indigenous and people of color in the GW community.
Walley said keeping current members engaged has been “difficult” because not all members are in the same time zone. She said the chapter is hosting weekly “dinner hours” where sisters can join in on a call and eat a meal together.
“How do we engage and communicate and explore our values virtually?” Walley said. “And how do we keep people in touch, and how do we check in on ourselves from other side effects of COVID-19? It was a mental health crisis to a degree. There’s a lot of loneliness, a lot of isolation.”
Senior Luke Stauffers, the vice president of Phi Delta Theta, said brothers have been talking over Zoom calls and Discord, a messaging service. He said GW’s chapter of Phi Delta will focus this fall on strengthening members’ friendships through engagement with shared interests like football and navigating how to hold social events to fit the brothers’ time zones.
“More of our guys are taking time out of their days to check in on and connect with other brothers,” Stauffers said in an email. “Engagement can be an issue, but as the semester amps up, we are seeing our brothers step up to the challenge – even those halfway around the world and in different time zones.”
He said the chapter participated in a virtual cross-country marathon fundraiser this summer for ALS research and will continue to hold similar fundraising events.
“Over the summer, our brothers were able to raise over $2,000 to support ALS research, families and initiatives to improve the quality of fraternity and sorority life across the country,” Stauffers said.