Slippery Rock University’s Greek chapters have been focusing on reworking their typical events and activities to accommodate restrictions put in place by the pandemic.
Assistant Director at the Office of Student Engagement Jayne Piskorik oversees all Greek Life at SRU and has been working diligently to restructure activities. Piskorik, along with members of different SRU chapters, have been successful in their attempts to bring normalcy back to Greek Life.
“Like any organization, COVID-19 is challenging for both function and growth,” Piskorik said regarding the difficulties fraternities and sororities have faced during the pandemic. “We’ve had to completely rethink everything.”
Despite the struggles Greek Life has faced, the organization has prevailed and rose to the challenge. Both fraternities and sororities have focused on and drawn inspiration from other SRU organizations on campus and how their online activities have been structured. Transitioning from in-person events to online has been the main struggle for the chapters.
When using online tools such as Zoom, it is important to maintain active engagement between both the moderators as well as the participants. This is a message that Alpha Kappa Alpha president D’Erika Cromartie feels strongly about maintaining.
“Active engagement is not what people usually do in Zoom,” Cromartie said. “But active engagement allows us to interact and not feel like we are in a class.”
A benefit that has come from being online is an increased sense of community between the different chapters at SRU. Since there have not been as many social events hosted by the chapters, they have had the ability to connect and support with each other via Zoom.
As each chapter prepares for recruitment, they have had the ability to revisit their values and appreciate what it really means to be a part of their specific fraternity or sorority.
SRU’s Greek Life was founded upon philanthropy and often emphasizes this focus, but especially now. During this time, online philanthropy has become a staple of virtual Greek Life. This new philanthropy experience has allowed for chapter members to discover new ways to give back to their community through online donations and participation in different discussions.
The pandemic has also forced the chapters to be innovative when planning events. For example, sorority recruitment has been a huge facet of Greek Life. In previous years, prospective sorority sisters would attend different events and socials hosted by the sororities that they were interested in. Over the course of three days, each prospective sister would narrow down their list of sororities until Bid Day. This year everything had to be modified in order to operate online.
Following the same format as previous years, prospective sisters met through Zoom with each sorority for roughly 10 minutes. Over the next two days, each student meets with fewer sororities for a longer amount of time and narrows down their favorite sororities. Even though this was not the desired way to host recruitment, each sorority worked diligently to provide the best experience they could to prospective sisters in an online format.
Julie Rismiller, the president of Alpha Sigma Tau, is actively looking to bring everything together for her sorority. “We’re making the most of a bad situation,” Rismiller said. “It’s not as lively and exciting, but we have been finding fun ways to keep everyone together.”
“Even though there have been lots of stress generated as a result of the effort put in to making the events happen, there has been lots of success, especially under the current circumstances.” Said Jayne Piskorik.
The success of online Greek Life has been the direct result of the effort and passion that every leader of SRU’s sororities and fraternities have brought forth in these troubling times. Through innovation and consistent effort, Greek Life is flourishing and remains a vital part of SRU.