Planning To Rush? What Greek Life May Look Like In The Fall

By Danielle Wirsansky on July 1, 2020

Greek life is a part of most college campuses. And for most schools and students, Greek life is a big way of life there. There are many different fraternities and sororities and a huge number of members. In fact, according to The Fraternity Advisor, there are 123 fraternities and sororities with 9 million members total.

But Greek life is about socialization, networking, and making strong bonds. How can any of that be achieved in the midst of a pandemic? With COVID-19 forcing many into quarantine and causing people, businesses, and organizations to follow social distancing guidelines (which include discouraging people from gathering in groups larger than 10 people), the social activities that make up the backbone of Greek life seem to be out of reach.

So if you were planning to rush this fall, what might that look like? And if you are a member of Greek life, how will these social distancing factors affect your Greek life?

Photo by Ketut Subiyanto from Pexels

Students interested in Greek life often choose their school based on the Greek life that a school has to offer. If Greek life is important to them, they want to choose a university where Greek life is prominent and well supported over one with a weak and quiet community. So what happens when Greek life is not what you had planned?

“I worry deeply about retaining students and keeping them invested on a campus where college doesn’t look like what they saw on TV,” Emily Perlow, an assistant dean of students who serves as co-chair of the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators Fraternity/Sorority Knowledge Community, said in an interview with EdSurge. “Gen Z is searching for connections and feels lonely. I think fraternities and sororities can be a wonderful place where those connections are formed.”

Students should investigate what the fraternities and sororities are planning to offer this fall and see if that plays any part of their decision. Lots of colleges are focusing their course offerings on online courses and promoting distance learning until the pandemic is better under control. Many students who are not fans of online and distance learning are in turn choosing to take a gap year instead of returning back to school this fall in the hopes that the situation will be improved by the following school year. If online learning and socialization is not a good fit for you, you may want to reconsider starting or returning to school this fall.

For those that want to barrel right on through, Greek life has been doing its best to maintain the status quo but virtually. As most campuses were shut down midway through the spring semester, fraternities and sororities tried to finish the year off strong with virtual events. They have held virtual mixers, remote viewing parties, virtual formals, and more.

Some fraternities and sororities, which had their bylaws state that administrative meetings had to be conducted in person, have altered the rules so that Greek life can be maintained even while students are apart.

It seems very likely, for those still interested in rushing, that this will turn to an online interview process rather than the usual on person spectacle. Each campus’s Panhellenic committee will obviously choose their own online process, but moving the rushing process online can help make students a lot safer until the coronavirus is better under control.

Greek life organizations also need to follow the rules and dictates of their university on what kind of gatherings will be allowed, which is dictated by the health organization ruling each individual state. This makes it hard to predict what Greek life may or may not be allowed to proceed with.

“The guidance is very clear. They have to follow whatever their state’s public health expectations are,” says Judson Horras, president and CEO of the North American Interfraternity Conference, which represents more than 60 fraternities. “Big parties, all those events, those can’t happen if the state doesn’t allow it. If the university allows gatherings of a certain size, the fraternities will gather at those sizes.”

Photo from Pexels

If campuses will allow gatherings of a certain size, then Greek life will follow suit and organize events that follow these rules. However, this will severely limit who and how many brothers and sisters can participate in the events. Any events that require larger attendance will most definitely have to be postponed or made to be a virtual event in the interim. Students looking to get involved in Greek life this year will be inducted in a highly unique situation and given a once in a lifetime kind of experience. Greek life will go on, so if getting involved and participating is important to you, do not let the pandemic stop you from joining!

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