In just a few short weeks, life across the globe has changed drastically due to the rapid spread of the novel coronavirus. From large corporations to small family businesses, the entire world has been adapting to new changes and restrictions put in place in order to protect the general public from further contamination, and many have been forced to shut down their organizations entirely.
At Ohio University, members of Greek life have modified their day-to-day schedules and transitioned to meeting online-only. Many fraternity and sorority members are incredibly disappointed they didn’t get to finish out their 2020 school year with their brothers and sisters.
Meetings with the OU Office of Sorority and Fraternity Life, chapter members and officers are now performed through programs such as Microsoft Teams or Zoom in order to limit physical contact.
Ian Dickens, president of Delta Tau Delta at OU, explained that while Greek life is adapting to these changes quickly, meeting virtually does not provide the same gratification as meeting in-person and communicating is growing increasingly difficult.
“I feel that most of our members, and myself, are handling the situation as best as we can,” Dickens, a sophomore studying journalism, said in an email. “I can't deny the fact that I wish we weren't experiencing an outbreak at this time, but it's something that everyone is also dealing with.”
After OU’s Greek population experienced a difficult Fall Semester where all Interfraternity Council (IFC) chapters were suspended, some even being investigated by the university due to hazing allegations, Dickens explained that he was eager to reconnect and expand IFC’s relationships with the other chapters on campus. However, the coronavirus’s spread prevented that when OU shut down its campus as a precautionary measure.
Many fraternities and sororities are using their broad web of connections as an opportunity to fundraise money for those impacted by COVID-19. One way many members of Greek life are raising money is through bingo-board donations posted on Instagram stories. According to Dickens, Alpha Delta Pi is also helping its philanthropy, the Ronald McDonald House, in providing donations of food items and clothing. These efforts to make a positive impact on the world are significant in a time where many feel uprooted or lost due to the crisis.
Maggie Old, president of Delta Zeta at OU, explained she has experienced a drastic life change, transitioning from living with more than 40 sisters and friends in the Delta Zeta house to social distancing in her home. Now, she is only able to interact with a small number of her sisters through FaceTime, social media and virtual DZ events.
However, these transitions to virtual work haven’t stopped Old from keeping her chapter engaged and productive. Delta Zeta is holding a “Wellness Week” from April 12 to 18, in which their risk manager Annie Thomas will use the sorority’s social media platforms to highlight ways to stay mentally and physically healthy while isolated.
“In the short weeks we have been adapting, it really has helped me grow personally as a leader in how I conduct things and how confident I am in my decisions,” Old, a sophomore studying visual communications, said in an email. “It has also shown how our community, Greek and otherwise, can come together and work things out even in uncertain times, and I am so impressed by that!”
Old believes that Greek life will be permanently impacted by the coronavirus, but in a positive way. She explained that, while communication between chapters could have gone entirely downhill once the university closed its campus, leaders have instead been incredibly successful with utilizing virtual communication methods and creating plans for the remainder of the semester.
Madison King, the internal social chair of Delta Zeta, emphasized that Old has been more than efficient when it comes to communication, sending out weekly emails to ensure everyone in the chapter stays up to date.
To King, staying connected is one of the most important things one can do as the virus runs its course. She explained that her sorority recently watched a movie on Netflix through Zoom, has regular Zoom meetings between bigs and littles and is participating in a pen-pal program between chapters at OU.
“I feel like we will all learn to grow from this epidemic,” King, a junior studying marketing and business analytics, said in an email. “This will make us stronger and grow together as a chapter. I love these women and we are all doing everything to create light during this dark time. Reach out to your brothers and sisters.”