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Greek life faces recruitment challenges thanks to pandemic and virtual setting

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Jaydelle Herbert
Staff Writer

Sororities and fraternities’ spring recruitment numbers were significantly lower than last year due to the virtual setting as a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic this past February.

The current number of members for each sorority includes 29 members for Alpha Omicron Pi, 43 Iota Delta members, 46 Phi Sigma Sigma, four Sigma Gamma Rho members, and 50 Sigma Kappa members.

Overall, the sororities collectively welcomed 30 new members into the Greek community this spring compared to 47 new members last spring.

The current numbers for fraternities include one Iota Phi Theta member, 11 Sigma Alpha Epsilon with 11 members, and 38 Phi Delta Theta members.

Overall, the fraternities had 11 new members this spring compared to 15 new members last spring.

Iota Delta had a pledge class of six new recruits while Phi Delta Theta had a pledge class of eight.

“It was a little low… but we are still happy with the quality of guys that we got since we try to focus on quality out of quantity,” said Michael Rodriguez, recruitment chair of Phi Delta Theta.

Although all the sororities and fraternities on campus considered the financial implications of the pandemic year, and lowered monthly dues this spring, there are freshmen who said they didn’t join because of the expense.

Taylor Moore, freshman broadcast journalism major, said she’d hoped to join a sorority this year to be involved in charity work and hosting fundraisers, but said it was too expensive for her right now.

I wanted to join last semester but I found out I needed 16 credits before going through recruitment,” Moore said. “I planned to join this semester and was actually quite excited to go through recruitment since I have met so many girls from sororities, but I was faced with the reality that joining a sorority wouldn’t be affordable for myself or my family,” Moore said.

Another challenge was bringing in a new class of freshmen, whose only experience of college and extra-curricular activities at the University has been in the virtual world.

“We definitely had a stronger social media focus for recruitment to connect with people online to invite them to sign up for recruitment,” said Katelyn Simonson, senior international studies major and recruitment chair for Iota Delta.

Iota Delta recruited six new members this spring compared to eight new members last spring.

Aaron Arellano, junior broadcast journalism major and president of Phi Delta Theta, said his fraternity created various flyers to appeal to freshmen recruits.

“One flyer said ‘Make 2021 greater than 2020’ because no doubt everyone had a horrible 2020,” Arellano said. “We are trying to appeal to the freshmen by saying you can make this a better year and you can start that by going Greek.”

Although Sigma Gamma Rho sorority, the historically African American sorority, had online recruitment in Fall 2020, the organization also faced similar challenges reaching out to ULV students who would be interested in joining.

“It was difficult to get to know different women on campus who would be interested in the sorority because of COVID,” said Jazzlyn Johnson, vice president of Sigma Gamma Rho.

Sigma Gamma Rho pledged one new recruit which is the same number of new recruits the sorority had last year bringing up their total to four members.

Amber Claro, sophomore child development major and new recruit to Phi Sigma Sigma, said her recruitment into her sorority was a good experience, despite the lack of in-person activity. 

“Although it was stressful at times with making sure I attended the meetings, it was a good stress,“ Claro said.

Claro created memories during recruitment that will last long after she graduates from the university.

“It was a great experience, not just with meeting the separate orgs and the philanthropies they work with, but also meeting the amazing women I got to go through recruitment with was a really great time for me to meet new people,” Claro said.

Claro also commented saying recruitment pushed her to be herself and open up to other women within the sororities.

“When you are in an environment you aren’t normally used to, you become a version of yourself that is heightened because you want to make those connections, but during recruitment I was able to be myself and I believe the best version of myself in the most impressive, confident way,” Claro said.

The Greek life community has focused on ways to restart their pre-covid events in an online setting to keep members and the community involved.

“As of right now for spring we have raffles planned, we want to do a virtual step show, and an event called ‘Cupcakes and Condoms’ which is an informational event to promote safe sex practices,” Johnson said.

“Most of the events we used to do, we have been able to slightly modify into a virtual setting, but we are looking to do a lot more with our philanthropy events,” Rodriguez said.

Arellano said he hopes to meet his fraternity’s new recruits in a safe, socially distanced setting in May or June.

“If we can meet up with them one by one safely, maybe get some lunch 6-feet-away because we don’t even know how tall they are or anything physical about them besides the top half of their body,” Arellano said.

Members of the Greek community shared their testimonies on what Greek life means to them and how the Greek community has continued to support them during these tough times.

“Being in a sorority is about sisterhood, it’s about helping others, finding people who are like minded like you and going through the same things you are going through that can help to support you through quarantine,” Johnson said.

“Greek life offers a different support system. We are one big community and we all support one another,” Simonson said.

Claro decided to join a sorority this spring to gain a sense of community transferring to a new college and to gain a sisterhood bond.

“My main goal in Phi Sigma Sigma is to grow as an individual and alongside women who want the same for themselves and for others,” Claro said.

Claro expressed how joining the Greek community is a great opportunity for students to get out of their comfort zone.

“I think your time at La Verne is based on what you put into it and what you are going to get out of it, so going through recruitment and joining clubs I think the experience is definitely worth it and it will be rewarding,” Claro said.

The College Panhellenic Association posts information regarding upcoming recruitment opportunities regularly. They can be reached at cpa.ulaverne@gmail.com.

Jaydelle Herbert can be reached at jaydelle.herbert@laverne.edu.

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