Shepherdstown, W.Va., – While Greek life is strongly depicted in movies and parties happening all over campus along with a large on campus presence, many don’t think this can be done virtually. These organizations at Shepherd have made it possible and still social.
Greek organizations are staying active on campus as well as in their fraternity/sorority in many different ways. I spoke with Hannah Flach, President of Sigma Alpha Iota, Eta tau, Shepherd University’s Professional Music Fraternity on campus.
When navigating the online format of meetings and making sure everything gets done, “online meeting has been challenging. Initially, Zoom wasn’t too bad. But as classes began using the Zoom format, Zoom exhaustion became very real and as a chapter we began exploring different options. The 40–minute zoom cap was an additional challenge,” said Flach.
“One benefit to come out was the need to take a recess after 40 minutes of meeting, which helped fight against the Zoom exhaustion, but if we didn’t plan for the recess, sometimes we would be kicked out right in the middle of meetings. Eventually, our chapter switched to Discord for meetings and our group chats.” added Flach.
Discord has been a huge help for having things all in one place. “I think the chapter has really had to step out of their comfort zones, but we’ve all become very flexible and much more tech-savvy through all of this. We try to use more of our resources wisely now. I’d say another huge challenge was formal meetings. Roberts Rules are very challenging to enforce in a virtual format,” said Flach.
Flach continued, “Additionally, rituals have been a whole big issue. It has been hard to ensure participation and active engagement through virtual meetings as well. In meetings, there is a lot more of myself—the president—talking, which makes me feel guilty because I don’t want the chapter to feel like I’m constantly droning on, but there seems to be a lot more business to report when people aren’t all actively on campus and events are posted online instead of bulletin boards around campus.”
Members rarely understand the stresses on Greek Life presidents because of virtual meetings.
Going online has also affected recruitment for Greek Life and how many people they can reach.
Flach said, “Recruiting on campus has been kind of miserable. People are not looking for another reason to have virtual meetings. I held on to the hope that maybe people who be yearning for more social connections and we would have a positive reaction to recruitment. But that was not the reaction we had.”
“It was challenging to have attendance for virtual recruitment events because there was no recruitment by word of mouth, no one walking by an event and just swinging by, and much less social or lively events.”
Knowing what I have learned in the interview with Flach I look at the struggles the Greek life as a whole is facing during the times of COVID-19.
I will continue to follow with the chapters and interview more chapters as the circumstances change and to check in with others to see how they are functioning during these times. Going Greek even in virtual settings can be the same as going Greek in pre or post COVID times.