UMD Greek Life moves some recruitment, events to a virtual environment

Fraternity Row on March 22, 2020. (Joe Ryan/The Diamondback)

By Meghan Curtis
For The Diamondback

Last week, fall recruitment began for many on-campus fraternities at the University of Maryland. But due to the ongoing pandemic, Greek life organizations campuswide have been forced to rethink many of their normal activities.

Aidan Roberts, an executive board member of Sigma Alpha Epsilon, said the fraternity held recruitment events over Zoom last week. Those interested in joining the organization participated in football watch parties and played video games such as Madden NFL and Call of Duty with members.

Roberts, a junior journalism major, said the organization is “completely fine” trying to adapt to an online environment for safety reasons amid the pandemic. 

“Right now we’re working with what we’ve got,” Roberts said. “I respect the guidelines. And obviously, I would love for them to be gone, however, we all understand that that’s not really an option right now.”

During the virtual recruitment events, Roberts said the fraternity saw increased engagement from possible new members, which surprised him and other members of the chapter.

In normal years, Roberts said, in-person recruitment events attract large numbers of people, but the amount of those who return shrinks each time. But with online recruitment, Roberts noticed a better sense of consistency. 

[Residents in at least two UMD Greek life houses quarantining after positive COVID-19 cases]

Most sororities on campus conduct formal recruitment in the spring. This semester, however, many have conducted weekly chapter meetings and philanthropic events virtually. 

Sarina LeCroy, president of this university’s chapter of Tri Delta, said her sorority plans to hold fundraisers with St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital throughout the semester, using social media to collect donations. 

As for other events, LeCroy said, the organization plans to hold a virtual workshop for its members surrounding body positivity and self-image near the end of October. 

Turnout to virtual events has been “great so far,” LeCroy said, and the sorority’s executive office — located in Dallas, Texas — has helped the chapter throughout the transition to an online format.

“[Tri Delta’s executive office has] just been really really supportive,” the junior communication major said. “We were given a great foundation to build on coming into this semester.”

[UMD clubs operate amid pandemic, hope to attract members at virtual First Look Fair]

But plans for formal recruitment in the spring are still in the works, according to LeCroy.

This university’s Panhellenic Association — an organization composed of 16 National Panhellenic Conference sororities — has created plans both for in-person recruitment in the spring, “if things are well enough off,” and for virtual recruitment, LeCroy said. 

Some organizations, on the other hand, are gearing up for recruitment right now.

Tau Beta Sigma, a national honorary band service sorority, will hold their rush events starting next week. 

According to Lauren Taylor, a junior elementary education major who is vice president of memberships, participants in the rush events will take part in a virtual game night. 

Like LeCroy, Taylor also credited her organization’s national leadership, saying that Tau Beta Sigma’s national team has “done a really good job at making virtual options.” 

But even so, Taylor said there are downsides to being online. 

“I feel like, because everything is virtual, it would kind of turn people off from joining,” Taylor said. “But I am hopeful that we’ll be able to do everything successfully.”

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