With more than 30% of Miami University students involved in Greek Life according to The Cliff Alexander Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life website, the spring recruitment process is a busy and important time for those members and prospective new members. But this year will be different due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Usually, buildings around campus are filled with girls chanting their organization’s name and fraternity houses crowded with first-year boys awaiting a new group of brothers. This year, with the state’s restrictions in place, formal recruitment for both fraternity and sorority life will be moved online.
This will be the first time formal recruitment will be digital in the 175 years that Greek Life has been on Miami’s campus, according to the Cliff Office’s website. Prospective new members and active members alike are somewhat in the dark about how this new recruitment process will pan out.
“I haven't heard anything other than it is online; we have no idea how it will work,” said Lily Clouser, a sophomore in Gamma Phi Beta.
Although the campus is preparing for a virtual recruitment, there is still hope of Preference Round and Bid Day to be in person, said Kimberly Vance, director of fraternity and sorority life.
“Our director of technology is communicating with other university chapters all over the country that have already done fall virtual recruitment for insight,” Vance said. “We’re creating Canvas courses to guide those through the process, and we saw a positive outcome with the first round of Panhellenic recruitment, indicating they may not switch back over after the pandemic, as video allows for a more focused and relaxed experience.”
Vance is hopeful that, by late January, there will be enough training and insight to create a positive experience but admits she still is worried about the new process.
“I will say I am terrified because there are so many pieces we are doing in the spring that we have not done before,” Vance said.
An official plan has not yet been released, but ideas are circling about how to make the process work as smoothly as possible.
“I know it’s going to be online, but nothing else,” James Ford, a senior in Theta Chi, said. “I am hoping those in the process will be able to find an organization right for them online.”
As current members share their confusion, some are worried about whether students will want to be involved this year.
“I know that everyone is able to participate, even if they are fully remote,” Sarah McGuire, a sophomore in Phi Mu, said. “But I worry if that will stop them.”
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McGuire is concerned the lack of social events due to the pandemic will play a role in deterring potential new members from rushing.
“A lot of people dropped their sorority this year due to not having events,” McGuire said. “I hope [first-years] still rush, even if it is online. I am worried that some may want to wait till next year or not do it at all. It also sucks for those of us who were excited to be on the other side of the process.”
Current members are also worried the possibility of decreased membership could affect their organizations’ cost in the future.
“If we do not get enough members, I am worried our dues will go up,” Clouser said. “We have to have a certain amount of money to have events, and if we do not have enough people to pay for it, I don’t know what will happen.”
Not only are current members worried about this new process, but so are the prospective members.
“I am even more nervous now to talk to people on Zoom; it will be harder to get to know people,” said Ellie Levy, a first-year who is planning on rushing next semester. “I had sisters and friends who rushed, and they had told me what to expect. I had been watching YouTube videos on how it works, but now it is all going to be different. I will have to take notes to remember the girls’ energy over Zoom.”
Although this is not the process Levy had in mind, she is being optimistic and still feels she will find the right group of girls for her.
“I am sure it will be a challenge,” Levy said. “But I am confident I will find my home and make connections that will last forever.”
The deadline to register for formal recruitment is Jan. 5, and the process is scheduled to begin on Jan. 21.