In the wake of COVID-19, Panhellenic sororities have shifted to a virtual format, which has affected events, dues and recruitment.
The philanthropic and sisterhood events were canceled to protect the health of members and to abide by CDC guidelines.
Vivian Noyd, the president of Alpha Chi Omega, said her executive board worked tirelessly over the summer to transition the majority of their events into a virtual space.
“While we had initially hoped to have a wide variety of in-person events, we’ve had to postpone many of these events,” said Noyd.
“Until we can ensure safe and socially distanced events, we will exist in an entirely virtual format.” – Vivian Noyd
The online format allows for easy accessibility for members who are spread across the country this semester.
Some sorority members, however, have expressed concerns regarding virtual events.
Adriana Fuhlage, a junior member of Gamma Phi Beta, expressed her fears regarding chapter involvement throughout the semester.
“Since I’m living off campus and there are limited in-person events happening, I will rarely be seeing people who are not in my inner circle,” said Fuhlage.
Philanthropic and social events make up a large sum of dues for active sorority members, which has led to questions about where member’s dues will now go.
“I’m afraid some people may drop if there aren’t enough efforts for socially-distanced sisterhood events because there are questions about where the money we pay is going this year,” Fuhlage said.
Noyd acknowledged concerns around dues and said it is important to recognize the financial hardships imposed on families as a result of COVID-19.
“This semester, we reduced our dues by 38%,” said Noyd. “By removing expenses for events that were no longer possible due to COVID-19, we were able to reduce the cost of each member significantly.”
A new online format will also be implemented for fall recruitment, and the headcount for this year’s potential new members— or PNMs — turned out better than expected.
In the fall 2019 semester, 58.4% of first years joined a sorority, equating to roughly 772 women. This year, recruiters expect a record-breaking 1,000-1,100 PNMs.
Liza Bilich, a senior recruiter of Delta Gamma, said her sorority is working hard to accommodate the surplus of PNMs entering this year’s recruitment, despite formatting changes.
“We have to learn a completely new way of speaking to girls,” said Bilich. “There are also a lot of tech issues with Zoom that we have to work fast to fix, so it will be a big adjustment.”
Bilich added the online format will prevent PNMs from developing the initial personal connections women received in previous years.
“Things are different this year because the potential new members don’t get the same face-to-face interactions current members got during their recruitment experience,” said Bilich. “Despite this, we’re happy to have the opportunity to hold recruitment and are excited to meet the girls.”
Members have attended workshops via Zoom in preparation for recruitment, which starts Sept. 13.
For more details on recruitment and contact information, visit the Panhellenic website.