Sydney Powell, ’22, top right, virtually participates in Kappa Alpha Theta’s big little reveal. Many Lehigh organizations have continued their traditions, but made adjustments to continue them remotely. (Courtesy of Sydney Powell)

Organizations alter traditions to fit new conditions

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For Lehigh sororities and clubs, the spring semester is highlighted by events, elections and more. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, these organizations had to find new ways to carry out these traditions, all while being miles apart. 

Sydney Powell, ‘22, is the human resources director for Kappa Alpha Theta. It is her role to plan and organize sisterhood events. Although it has been an adjustment to be away from campus, they have made it work the best they can, she said.

“It has been a struggle, but I think we have all done a really good job keeping up with each other,” Powell said. “And we’ve been having some sisterhood events that have been remote.”

Powell said they have weekly Netflix nights where everyone can watch a movie together and chat on Zoom. Additionally, Powell said they have found other ways to stay in touch, including shouting out a sister on Instagram and attending online coffee dates. 

As for their typical traditions, they were still able to have a Big/Little week, but with some alterations. Each big sent their little anonymous messages and then revealed themselves over Zoom. 

For the new members, it might not be the exact experience they anticipated, but it will still be memorable, Powell said.

“I think it’s definitely an experience they won’t forget,” Powell said. “It might not be the traditional one, but I think it’s something they are going to keep with them for the rest of their lives, for sure.”

The Lehigh University Choir’s spring semester is usually filled with concert preparations. This year, their concerts had to be either postponed until the fall or canceled due to COVID-19. 

The group was disappointed by not being able to perform in concerts, and they are trying to carry out other traditions as best as they can in this new environment, said Natalie Maroun, ‘21, the current recruitment manager for choir.

One of these traditions is the election process for next year’s choir officers. The group met over Zoom in order to discuss, vote and elect candidates for the positions. 

“We made sure that it ran as smoothly as it could and tried to get as many people in attendance as possible,” Maroun said. “We have people living on the West Coast, we have people living in Europe, so it was interesting to try to find a happy medium to make sure everyone was there, but it worked out.” 

In addition to the elections, the members are hoping to find a way to honor the rest of their traditions, especially the ones that celebrate their seniors. 

A Whole Step Up, Lehigh’s male-only a cappella group has also been adapting, without the opportunity to have spring concerts. 

Ben Metz, ‘22, said the group is using this time to discuss preparations for next year, including future plans for the group and new song arrangements. 

“The quarantine is actually kind of good for the executive board to get time to figure out how we are going to run things in the future,” Metz said. 

Metz said the members haven’t met to rehearse, but they have been able to adapt their tradition of electing executive board members for next year. He said the election process was completely online and included small speeches, a meeting on Zoom and a Google Form for voting. 

Lehigh’s Baja SAE club’s spring semester is usually highlighted by two competitions where they test the vehicle that they have been designing and building over the past year. The competitions’ events, which require the vehicle to be driven on a course in person, were canceled. 

However, the static events, which are design presentations of the vehicle, are still taking place online over Zoom, said Conan Shen, ‘20.

Shen said the team has continued to meet online, mainly focusing on planning for next season and the future, but also talking about design ideas. He said normally, the team would spend hours in design meetings in Lehigh’s CAD lab. 

“Now, obviously we are all working from home,” Shen said. “We still have those design meetings, but it’s more (of) present(ing) what you did over the week kind of deal.”

For Shen, this spring was his last competition with the club. He said the situation is disappointing as he wishes he could have a final opportunity to compete, but he can’t change the situation, and he is instead going to begin working earlier than he had planned.

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