As East Carolina University’s Fall 2020 semester faces change in academics, clubs and social gatherings, some students may notice a different Greek Life experience as well.
Greek Life Director John Mountz said there are over 30 fraternities and sororities affiliated with four different councils and each has its own individual recruitment process. He said all recruitment processes for the 2020-2021 school year will be impacted by COVID-19.
Mountz said Greek Life will continue to work alongside all campus organizations and plans to operate according to the current university and Center for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines.
“For example, you know, the university is requiring that everybody that steps on campus wears a mask,” Mountz said. “So one of the things we’re going to be doing is making sure that our chapters do their best to adhere to those things as well.”
Phase 2 of Governor Roy Cooper's stay-at-home order makes social gatherings difficult for all campus organizations, according to Mountz. He said all Greek Life groups plan to move some or all processes to a virtual format, depending on what the guidelines are when that time comes.
Mountz said intake processes will depend on how many members participate in each group. He said if the member intake is anticipated to be five members, they can do that safely in-person, but if member intake is anticipated to be above recommended guidelines, they’ll have to move that process to a virtual format.
The Panhellenic Association (PA) sorority recruitment will mostly be virtual, according to Mountz. He said the Interfraternity Council (IFC) plans to do the first portion of its recruitment virtual as well, but hopes to have some events in-person. More on the PA recruitment process can be found on its website.
“We have spent, our staff has spent, all summer long working with all of our councils to figure out multiple scenarios,” Mountz said.
The primary focus of Greek Life is to build connections with other people, according to Mountz. He said although virtual communication looks different than what most people are used to, it doesn’t mean connecting is impossible.
Mountz said he’s confident Greek Life will adapt to circumstances and will work to figure out the best way to do things in the fall.
“You have to manage your numbers of people and you need to take precautions in terms of social distancing, wearing a mask, keeping distance, having hand sanitizer and things,” Mountz said. “These are all things that our groups are having conversations about right now.”
Senior finance major and Vice President of Chi Phi Fraternity Kyler Bowen said the fraternity will follow IFC’s guidelines for social gatherings and events. He said this includes the usual six feet distance, limitations on the number of people at an event and wearing masks.
Bowen said Chi Phi will continue to look for people to share the next three to four years with, regardless of the given circumstances. He said the virtual aspect of things will not take away from the relationships that are built between members.
“I think people will still try to get involved with fraternities and sororities because they’ll still have the rest of their college career to be involved even though this first year might be a little bit different than what they expected or what usually happens,” Bowen said.
Senior industrial distribution and logistics major Nathan Brewer is a member of Chi Phi fraternity at ECU. He said in an email statement he is in charge of the fraternity’s social media accounts and newsletters, and he additionally tries to help with other positions within the chapter as well.
The fraternity will do its best to host fundraisers and events in compliance with the guidelines Greenville and ECU release, according to Brewer. He said in his statement recent changes and a shortened calendar makes it hard to distinguish what he looks forward to most.
“Honestly, this fall semester still has a lot of unpredictability so we aren’t exactly sure how it’s going to work,” Brewer said.
Senior marketing major and Chapter President of Phi Mu sorority Sarah Justinson said she expects a lot of the chapter meetings to be virtual and have some sort of smaller group fundraising.
She and other chapter presidents, leaders and members will plan for every scenario possible, according to Justinson. She said she looks forward to meeting new people during recruitment every year regardless of this fall being virtual.
“I think going Greek is such a great opportunity to meet new people,” Justinson said.
Justinson said she encourages students to still become involved in Greek Life, even given uncertainty with coronavirus circumstances. She said it is still a great way to make connections while following appropriate health safety guidelines.