(Opinions) Greek life good

The Beta Theta Pi house on Turner Street, Feb. 16, 2020.

Under normal circumstances, fall Greek life recruitment would be right around the corner. Early September was the time where fraternities on and off campus would be hosting a variety of events known by most as “rush events,” where those interested in joining Greek life could get to know the brothers of each organization. Like many other aspects of college life, the coronavirus pandemic has changed plans. 

Traditionally, the fall recruitment period for formal rush would last about two weeks, but this year it will be extended to two and a half weeks to compensate for the lack of spaces available to distance. The start date has been pushed back to Sept. 21, with the final day of rush being Oct. 12. As for recruitment events, the Virginia Tech Interfraternity Council, the advisory board for the 24 recognized fraternities on campus (commonly referred to as the IFC) is allowing for activities to take place between Sept. 21 and Oct. 6.

“We have made several major adjustments to our fall recruitment plan since the beginning of the pandemic,” said Spencer Hamilton, president of the IFC at Virginia Tech. “The most recent step of moving to an entirely virtual format, while difficult, was the best thing we could do to keep our campus safe and open.”

The main push by the IFC is for recruitment events and related activities to be hosted virtually. Fear of potentially spreading the coronavirus if people were to meet in person has been of high concern, and as a result, many traditional aspects of rushing are either discouraged or outright prohibited. Some of the discouraged activities include carpooling with potential new members, serving food and drinks unless prepackaged, and group hangouts. 

“I think contactless recruitment poses somewhat of a challenge for us because you can learn a lot about someone from how they greet you for the first time. I also worry that fewer people will be rushing overall, which reduces the likelihood of each fraternity finding the kind of people they are looking for,” said Nicholas Gardella, a senior member of the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity at Virginia Tech studying computer science.

For those familiar with any Greek life recruitment, potential new members may receive bids from the organizations they “rush,” which can be viewed as an invitation to join, oftentimes followed by a pledging process. This fall, the IFC is mandating that bid handouts be done in a contactless manner, with the date of handouts being Oct. 7. 

Traditionally, bid handouts would be large-group affairs, where numerous members of each fraternity visit the dorms or off-campus housing spots of potential new members to present people with their bids. The IFC is allowing handouts to take place in person, but they are to wear face masks and adhere to social distancing guidelines, with the recommendation of not traveling in groups larger than five. However, the IFC recommends a virtual bid handout as it is ideal and the most practical.

These provisions and recommendations for how fall recruitment should be carried out will no doubt result in a different rush experience, both for those hosting and those interested in joining. However, bearing in mind the importance of keeping all those involved safe from exposure to the coronavirus, some sacrifices will have to be made for the sake of having a good, pandemic-friendly rush. 

“We are excited to test the waters of a virtual recruitment process and we think it will prove to be a great way to bring returning and new students together in a safe way,” Hamilton said.

Those interested in joining an IFC organization should register on HokieSpa under the Student Organizations Menu, with more information available to be found on the IFC Instagram page @vtifc, or at www.vtifc.org/Recruitment-Hub. Any further questions or inquiries can be addressed via emailing virginiatechifc@gmail.com.

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