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Greek life continues virtual events and plans for in-person events

Greek life at Bradley has put recruiting events into a virtual environment since the COVID-19 pandemic, in-person events being limited. Photo via Scout Archive.

Greek life is known for its social atmosphere, but throughout the fall and the start of the spring, organizations needed to adapt to an online social life alongside other campus organizations.

However, with the introduction of Bradley’s new COVID-19 guidelines, chapters can start planning for more in-person events.

“We’re all extremely grateful for the new spring guidelines kind of allowing us to return to a little bit closer to what’s normal, especially when it comes to the social aspect of fraternities,” Aaron Coulombe, president of Inter-fraternity Council, said.

One major obstacle has been residential capacity limits. Since chapter housing is considered residential, each is limited to four guests at a time. This makes it difficult to host meetings, events or exchanges in-house.

If chapters want to host in-person events, they have to find a space with proper capacity, register through Event Services and fill out the COVID-19 Safety Plan form. The registration takes about five business days to be accepted.

Additionally, Panhellenic Council president Brier Barbeau said the new guidelines provide more opportunities for member engagement.

“With a more clear plan in place of what Bradley expects of its students this semester, it has definitely been easier to navigate how to keep those in Greek life involved and more prepared for events and meetings than they have been in previous semesters,” Barbeau, a junior kinesiology and health science double major, said in an email interview.

Kathleen Prout, assistant director for Fraternity and Sorority Life, said there are chapters that have not been able to all meet together since last year, resulting in larger chapters having more difficulty engaging members.

Recruiting potential new members

Coulombe, a junior nursing major, said that the spring of 2020 to spring of 2021 semesters were difficult for recruitment.

“When you’re recruiting new members, it’s really hard to get a feel for someone and their personality and how they mesh with everyone else in the group when you’re sitting behind a computer screen,” Coulombe said.

Continuous open bidding is traditionally used for the spring semester; however, more structure was added this year by distributing more information about spring IFC recruitment during the first two weeks of February.

Some events were hosted during that time, but there are still IFC recruitment events occurring now as part of the continuous open bidding cycle.

Barbeau said spring Panhellenic recruitment was done virtually, and almost all chapters participated.

Social events and Greek Week

Exchanges, formals and semi-formals are considered social events, therefore, cannot be registered through Event Services due to COVID-19 guidelines. However, fraternities and sororities can co-sponsor events together as long as it is registered and follows capacity limit restrictions.

“It’s allowing those chapters to really go back to the ultimate ‘why’ of why we were doing some of those events and be able to be creative,” Prout said. “We have some chapters that are going to do virtual exchanges.”

In addition to virtual exchanges, sororities have continued “swap-a-sis” events in an online format. Barbeau added that sororities are able to plan some small in-person gatherings such as sisterhood or philanthropy events.

Greek Week is typically one of the largest events of the spring where all Greek organizations participate together. According to Prout, a guest speaker alone might bring in 400-600 people, and any events larger than 50 guests will not be feasible given state and university guidelines.

“We might not be able to do a 100 percent normal Greek Week this year, but I want to still have something happen,” Coulombe said. “I don’t want to get to that point where we only have that one class year of students who know what Greek Week is.”

Prout said she recognizes the challenges that might come with planning engaging events for larger chapters and looks forward to easing restrictions, so these organizations can have events and see all members.

“I’m nervously looking forward to the next time we can have a huge block party and have the entire campus come — kind of the ‘remember what it used to be’ situation,” Prout said. “I try to help the leaders process some stepping stones because I don’t know if we’ll get to that point in the fall where we’re able to have [a] block party during Welcome Week … but there’s ways that we can start building up to that.”

Barbeau said that organizations are prepared for any future challenges that come with planning more events.

“We are very hopeful that next fall will bring many more opportunities, especially with the vaccine currently being widely distributed,” Barbeau said. “However, as we have all seen with how things progressed with the pandemic, everything can change in a blink of an eye.”

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