There are no more packed buses during rush week, only packed Zoom rooms. Like other clubs and organizations, Greek life has had to adjust as they begin their spring recruitment virtually. Greek life recruitment depends heavily on getting to know someone’s personality and their morals, but with a virtual environment, that is much more difficult. Despite having to go extra leaps and bounds, sororities and fraternities have made it possible to foster sister and brotherhood through a screen.
Junior David Nielsen has been a member of Greek life since the beginning of his freshman year and now holds the position of Interfraternity Council (IFC) president. Similar to last semester, fraternity recruitment will occur in a virtual environment.
Nielsen said last semester, each fraternity chapter filmed a video that was then compiled for potential new members (PNM) to see a glimpse of what Greek life is like. Recruitment this semester will be on a smaller scale and Nielsen said they expect less interest.
He said they typically see 400 to 500 people rushing in fall, but last year there were only about 200 to 250 people that applied who were eligible to rush. The IFC sets requirements to rush at a 2.75 GPA or higher, which Nielsen said eliminated around 50 people last semester.
“Some of the people that were talking to us were hoping that by this semester, [NAU] would open back up and be in person,” Nielsen said. “Unfortunately, it is virtual again.”
He said their decision to keep rushing completely virtual is due to school regulations and the rising transmission rates in Arizona, but they also want to be as safe as possible and do their part to not spread COVID-19 during the pandemic.
Since the beginning of his time in Greek life, Nielsen said he has been involved in the rush process, but due to his position, he will have to disaffiliate himself for the week. Members of Greek life temporarily remove themselves to be an impartial guide for PNM and to avoid any persuading toward a particular chapter. The IFC’s rush week has its first event, the All-Fraternity Showcase, which is an introduction to all the chapters Jan. 22, while the official week will kick off Jan. 25.
Getting information out to recruit new members is something that both sororities and fraternities are having to learn to live with. Nielsen explained that IFC is posting on social media, as well as encouraging each of the individual chapters to share rush dates, send emails and advertise through word-of-mouth.
The online environment is difficult, but Nielsen said it is possible to get a feel for someone in a virtual space. He shared that PNM who repeatedly come to events make it easier to have in-depth conversations.
However, Nielsen expressed concerns over the reality that PNM are not able to see the bond and brotherhood that members within the chapter already have, which is a large part of the experience.
Fraternity brothers within each chapter have a close relationship and those in the same pledge class have an even tighter bond, which Nielsen said is his favorite part of Greek life. Nielsen described the surrealness of him and his friends once being freshmen to now holding executive positions, such as chapter president, vice president, secretary and recruitment chair.
“They are my absolute best friends and it’s crazy to see how far we’ve come from being brand-new little freshmen all excited and bright-eyed and bushy-tailed,” Nielsen said. “It’s incredibly special and it’s something that’s just kind of indescribable. It’s like you saw where you were when you rushed and you’re seeing where we’re bringing it with the amount of time and dedication we’re putting into the chapter. It’s just a beautiful thing.”
Nielsen said Greek life is not what the stigma portrays — there is a level of professionalism. He said he has held resume workshops, acquired internships and that fraternity life is for anyone and everyone.
Junior Chloe Kennedy, who is the College Panhellenic Council’s vice president of recruitment internal, said in an email that all nine sorority chapters will be participating in the informal spring recruitment. She said this semester’s recruitment is not much different from other spring semesters, besides the fact that it is virtual.
She said spring recruitment is already drastically different from fall recruitment as there is usually a smaller size of PNM and fewer events planned. Kennedy explained this gives each chapter more freedom with what they can do.
“Whether this is large Zoom calls with a lot of members of their chapter or one-on-one calls, each chapter is deciding what works best for them,” Kennedy said.
She explained that the chapters are relying heavily on social media to attract new interest, due to the inability to advertise in person. Despite this obstacle, Kennedy said the chapters are pretty comfortable in an online format.
Junior Jenna Neufeld, vice president of recruitment for Pi Beta Phi, participated in the spring rush of 2019 herself and said Pi Phi held their recruitment events from Jan. 11 to Jan. 18.
Pi Phi held four events that were completely virtual and open to anyone interested. These events had themes such as tie-dye and pajama night that Neufeld said make the activities more fun because everyone dresses up.
Neufeld said each day had a new event, such as yoga or trivia, led by an active member of Pi Phi. The event Neufeld said she is most looking forward to will be learning a TikTok dance led by her roommate.
“I can’t dance to save my life, so I’m sure I’m going to make a fool out of myself,” Neufeld said. “I think if everybody else sees me just making a fool of myself hopefully [they] will feel comfortable to have fun and loosen up.”
She said Pi Phi tries to make these activities fun for active members and PNM, as well as allowing them to talk one-on-one and in large group settings. Neufeld explained that these settings allow the girls to get to know one another and understand each other’s values better.
“I think [recruitment] is a great opportunity to meet people and I know it’s been hard for a lot of girls, especially freshmen coming in who haven’t really had the chance to go out and meet a ton of new people [due to COVID],” Neufeld said. “So hopefully this is a great way for people to do that and hopefully we get a lot of girls interested.”
Despite their virtual circumstances, Neufeld said PNM still have the chance of getting close with their pledge class and enjoying an experience similar to one in person. Junior Kylie Brennan belongs to Kappa Delta and is the vice president of public relations. She has views that align with Neufeld’s on this issue.
Brennan said she spoke with a PNM during the fall recruitment where they had a deep and constructive conversation about their definition of what friendship and sisterhood means. Brennan said she believes that if everyone is open to the process, connections can be made despite being on Zoom.
Brennan said Kappa Delta has gotten creative with the virtual format by hosting one-on-one coffee dates with PNM, as well as having three virtual events that PNM can attend where they discuss topics like philanthropy.
With recruitment, Brennan said she encourages PNM to see Greek life as a way to find a sense of home and stability when the rest of the world is so unpredictable. She said Kappa Delta is heavily based on values, philanthropy and the quality of sisterhood. Brennan said they strive to find women who are passionate about those aspects of Kappa Delta.
“We ask that potential new members stay open to the process, be 100% themselves and they will find a Panhellenic chapter to call home,” Brennan said.
If individuals are interested in Greek life, they can reach out through the College Panhellenic Council’s Instagram, the NAU fraternities Instagram, IFC’s website, Panhellenic Council’s website or reach out to individual chapters through social media.