Greek Life makes adjustments for Fall 2020


Patrick Murphy

An empty beer bottle lies littered on the front lawn of a fraternity house on West Hillcrest Drive in DeKalb

By Jamie O'Toole, Columnist

DeKALB — Greek life and chapter recruitment will involve more requirements and precautions this year due to COVID-19. Presidents and current members are taking precautions to keep students involved remotely and updated with events and news through safe alternatives. 

For fall semester, formal recruitment activities have been deferred until the Spring 2021 semester, however, informal recruitment can continue. Not every chapter will recruit every semester anyway, Aubrey Hense, Associate Director for Fraternity and Sorority Life said, so it’s not mandatory, and many organizations may choose not to. 

If chapters do choose to, however, the president of the chapter must fill out a form disclosing how they plan to go about their recruitment process. Fraternity and Sorority Life will then be able to check when it will take place, learn how they are hosting their process and whether it’s online or in person. 

If chapters go the in-person route, FSL can monitor if they’re following the Protect the Pack guidelines and the Restore Illinois Plan with this form. If they choose virtual, FSL can note which online platform they’re using. 

For those living in a fraternity or sorority house, thorough cleaning and disinfecting will be required, according to the Fraternity and Sorority Life website. 

The houses are privately owned, Hense said. Some chapter houses are owned by national and international organizations of fraternities and sororities, leasing companies or residential companies that lease the house to a chapter and others through a local advisory board, typically called a housing corporation. 

Since fraternity and sorority houses are off campus, FSL can only provide recommendations to push cleanliness, Hense said. So far FSL has met with the private owners and chapter advisors and leaders to discuss resources like information from the Illinois Department of Public Health, CDC, Protecting the Pack Plan and what NIU housing is currently doing all provided on a tab on Huskie Link. 

Fraternity Phi Kappa Sigma currently has 20 members and all members plan to live in the house this semester, so they’re fortunate enough to maintain brotherhood physically instead of over Zoom calls, Chapter President Derrick Green said. Every brother has their own individual room this semester to avoid possible COVID-19 spreading. 

“We are going to be doing daily disinfecting of high contact areas multiple times a day,” Green said.

Delta Zeta, currently home to 40 sisters, has had many members opt out of their contracts for living in the house to live at home due to online classes, President Lea Powers said. 

For the women still living in the house, there will be many extra sanitization measures put in place, including no guest policing to keep out unnecessary germs, Powers said. Each sister will also be given a single room. 

Brothers in Phi Kappa Sigma will still engage in academic seminars, host study tables at the house and other brotherhood events. It will look different, however, as brothers will use their chapter room and social event room so that there is adequate space between brothers to socially distance. Masks will be required only if they’re not 6 feet apart, Green said. 

If chapters do not respect guidelines for events, consequences will go as far as a conversation. FSL will discuss with chapter presidents how to disinfect better and have better practices for safety, Hense said. 

Adapting to keeping members involved mainly through zoom, Powers said she plans on showing slide shows introducing sisters to useful tips regarding life after college, ways to reduce stress and ways to stay healthy. Powers will continue Positivity Mondays by sending a picture with a positive quote and wish everyone a great week, as well as any new information that she may have in their group chat.

Smaller chapters, like sorority Sigma Lambda Sigma currently have 21 members, and don’t have a house on campus — their meeting grounds being the Holmes Student Center, so sisterhood will be maintained through Zoom meetings. 

Mikala Kurzbuch, Sigma Lambda Sigma President, said she worries since her chapter can’t meet as regularly, but she hopes to have most of her concerns figured out at their summer chapter. This will be their only in person meeting, and every one following will transfer to zoom. 

The summer chapter meeting was optional. It took place at 1 p.m. Sunday at Hopkins Park, 1403 Sycamore Rd. Sisters were required to wear a mask, bring their own lunch and not share food, Kurzbuch said. Hand sanitizer was also provided. 

At their virtual meetings, sisters’ will be held accountable for academic requirements such as grades. Members receive points for getting As and Bs, and if they’re maintaining at least a 2.5 gpa. 

“We will try our best to do service events and philanthropy,” Kurzbuch said. 

Over the course of one semester in a previous year, Sigma Lambda Sigma achieved over 1,000 service hours. It is typically required of every sister to have 35 service hours per semester, but they may lower it to between 5 and 10 this semester, Kurzbuch said. 

“[The women] can do something at home by sending a card, picking up trash or donating money to charity,” Kurzbuch said.

Recruitment is one of Green’s main concerns this semester. 

“Social media is going to be crucial for recruitment. Usually we gain our new members from in-person events like Meet the Greeks, dining halls and tailgates,” Green said. 

United Greek Council organizations, composed of 15 multicultural Greek organizations that reflect the values of the diversity, equity and inclusion department, also worry about recruitment. 

Some organizations are concerned because some require a certain number of members to have an active house, UGC Executive President, Victoriano Ambriz said, but he is reassuring them that they will make the most of this year with who they have and have fun.

The executive board will be making a newsletter to keep organizations updated with what’s happening at NIU and lean on social media to attract members. 

Being a part of a smaller council on campus, although there are less members, it allows chapters to think further ahead and unite each other despite different backgrounds, Ambriz said. 

Before COVID-19, there were some “maybes” who were considering joining Sigma Lambda Sigma, Kurzbuch said.

“If we can’t get any new members this semester, we’ll try to get them to complete the process through any means, maybe through a Zoom class with them, something to make them feel included still,” Kurzbuch said.

In the meantime, Kurzbuch will also resort to social media for new members, by asking those interested in joining to do so, because they’d love to have them.