The Greek recruitment period is a time in which students are able to meet fraternity and sorority members through a variety of formal and social events. This year, however, recruitment has had to occur virtually due to COVID-19.
Panhellenic women completed the week-long recruitment process during the last week of January, accepting a new class of women into their chapters, while fraternities are in the midst of their second and final week.
Recruitment this year has reflected the social challenges and technical obstacles that many students are facing as a result of the pandemic.
“I think everyone’s just dying for a chance to connect with people and not feel like they’re alone in their dorm room,” said Kate Mullen, outgoing vice president of Internal Recruitment for Lehigh’s Panhellenic Council.
Unlike typical Panhellenic recruitment, where potential new members travel from house-to-house and interact with current members, chapters created videos of house tours and general overviews of their philanthropies, sisterhoods and values.
Chapters got to know potential new members through videos where they answered questions about themselves.
Julia Voelzke, outgoing Panhellenic Council president, said the videos were very effective.
“The guidelines we gave them for those videos were a lot more specific and a lot more substantive,” Voelzke said. “I feel like a lot of people think very stereotypically about what rush videos look like and I think that all of the chapters did a really good job of actually portraying what their chapters are about.”
Mullen said reactions to the recruitment process vary every year and this year was not an exception. A sorority being judged on a two minute video is “a hard pill to swallow,” Mullen said.
Fraternities spent the first week hosting open events online to meet potential new members. Some of these events included poker, Cards Against Humanity, Among Us, Q&A sessions and game shows.
Peter Jensen, IFC President, said this recruitment process is starkly different from a normal year, and the events have not cultivated nearly as much excitement as they typically would.
Usually groups of 40 to 50 potential new members and fraternity brothers would participate in activities like go-karting or paintballing, but that isn’t plausible in light of COVID-19, Jensen said.
However, Wesley Patel, IFC recruitment chair, said Zoom allows up to 100 participants to gather and split up into breakout rooms, which allows for greater participation in each event.
Patel said while the recruitment process has changed substantially this year, the amount of registrants for fraternity recruitment hasn’t changed. IFC received about 20 more participants than last year, which he attributes to a larger freshman class.
Voelzke and Mullen said even though sororities lost about 30 registrants compared to last year, the retention rate throughout the week was stronger than previous years.
“I think girls just really want to meet people and feel connected to campus,” Mullen said. “So hopefully this gives girls an opportunity to look at a house they maybe wouldn’t have considered before.”
Sarah Quinn, ‘24, a new member of Alpha Gamma Delta, said she wasn’t going to go through recruitment at first, but changed her mind.
“I was actually very against it,” she said. “But then just talking to upperclassmen and my classmates, I thought it was a really great opportunity to meet people.”
The virtual setting forced IFC to revamp their website, and both Greek councils will continue to produce house tour videos in the future.
Jensen said he is hopeful fraternities will be able to make use of their chapter houses at some point this semester for small and socially distanced in-person events. Voelzke said she is hopeful that chapters will take advantage of on-campus spaces that were offered last semester that they haven’t used.
For both fraternities and sororities, this new recruitment process could signify fundamental changes in Greek life at Lehigh in the years to come.
Jensen said he hopes that this shift in fraternity experience will assist in reforming Greek life and implementing the 10-point plan for Greek excellence.
“Half the kids in these fraternities now are not going to have the same experiences that the other half had and so it’ll be easier to then start to push those cultural shifts and those changes that we need,” he said.