Greek life recruitment goes virtual


Before the COVID-19 pandemic, members and potential members of Greek life would participate in an abundance of activities. Pictured is Kappa Delta in 2019 during Preference Day, where potential members will submit their sorority preferences. Photo courtesy of Meg Frankenberger.

Nicolette Noce, Campus Editor

For potential new members and existing members of Greek Life, this year’s recruitment will look very different from that in years past. 

 Many Greek chapters have decided to run their recruitment process similarly to the university’s temporary way of conducting learning–via Zoom. Manager of Student Life Programs Mary Ann Hanicak explained how the traditional recruitment process looks at John Carroll. 

 Typically, each chapter hosts a meet-and-greet to engage with potential new members, introduce themselves and explain the values of their organization. These meet-and-greets allow prospective members to check out the different chapters on campus before pledging to one. Then, each chapter narrows down which potential new members they would like to invite back. After this, chapters send bids to the students they would like to join their organization. New members have a choice to accept or decline such bids. Upon acceptance, the chapters celebrate their new members. New members are then formally initiated and become members of their respective sorority or fraternity. 

But this year, amid COVID-19 concerns, Hanicak shared that recruitment will have no official end date. Instead, there will be continuous open recruitment throughout the semester in an informal and virtual way. Typically, bids are not given out past the traditional recruitment weekend unless a chapter is not yet at full capacity. 

Greek life chapters are run entirely by students, therefore, each chapter on JCU’s campus is responsible for creating its own recruitment process. This means that each organization follows its own agenda and protocols for recruitment. 

While many chapters were hoping to conduct a traditional recruitment, all were faced with the reality of COVID-19. Hanicak explained that the Panhellenic Council, which is the executive board of all five sororities on campus, went to great lengths to create three potential recruitment plans, but ultimately had to settle on a purely virtual recruitment experience. 

Panhellenic vice president of Recruitment and Membership Elizabeth Forsyth explained, “Planning for recruitment during this pandemic has been a long process.” In April the council had plans to proceed with the traditional three-day recruitment weekend. All involved would be masked and socially distant. 

“As time went on it obviously became clear to us that this was not going to be a safe option for anyone involved,”  Forsyth continued. 

In June, the council created a new approach: two weeks of recruitment with help completely outdoors, socially distant, with masks. As well, there would be  a virtual option for those who wanted it.  

“After more consideration and scheduling conflicts, we then changed the plan to be completely virtual recruitment, but only a three-day weekend” said Forsyth . Finally, the council settled on a completely virtual recruitment that would continue throughout the fall semester. 

Director of Recruitment for Delta Tau Delta Colin Hirsch revealed, “As the semester got closer, I formulated two recruitment plans: one was in-person and one was over Zoom. I hoped for in-person recruitment, but at the same time I was realistic in how the novel coronavirus has affected schools.” 

In a typical recruitment process, members and prospective members gather and engage in get-to-know-you style events. “Virtual recruitment has been different. We are directly marketing the fraternity to potential new members via email and social media,” Hirsch acknowledged. “Freshmen get an email with an introduction to Delt[a Tau Delta], our schedule for our rush week and the zoom links.” 

Hirsch said that after this process, it is up to incoming freshmen to show interest and engagement in the organizations of their choosing. 

For recruitment this year, Hirsch’s chapter has hosted a virtual question-and-answer session, game night, Cleveland scavenger hunt and a hangout event.

Hirsch has chapter plans for initiating new members in the future, but he explained, “We cannot initiate members because we would have to go through our ritual process. So, until it is safe to have gatherings again, our new members will have to wait …  to be fully initiated.” Although new members will not be properly initiated, they will still be included and welcome to join in chapter functions like meetings and socially distant hangouts. 

Although the recruitment process is different and, in some ways, very challenging, recruitment numbers are up. Hanicak announced, “Last year during recruitment, the total number of new members was 55, but right now, we already have 30 new members.” 

“Our community has already gained 57 new members which is insane,” Forsyth shared. “If I’m being honest, I did not think that our chapters would gain too many members due to the crazy time that we’re in.”

For new members to the JCU community, Greek life recruitment offers an opportunity to engage and interact with students on campus, even if it is in a virtual way.