Greek Life recruitment wrapped up last week, and like most activities this semester, it was not the same as in past years.
“Recruitment faced a few challenges this year, as you might expect,” Assistant Director of Campus Activities and Greek Life Adviser Julianne Watterson said.
“All of our large events were virtual, most of them were over Zoom. We stretched out the process to be two weeks instead of one so that members could do in-person one-on-one meetings with potential new members,” Watterson said.
Despite these initial challenges, there were benefits to this different format.
“That was totally different than anything we’ve done before but I was told that chapters really liked it because they were given a chance to have a personal conversation with someone in a time where we don’t get to see people in person as much anymore,” Watterson said.
Senior Amelia Bjorklund has already noticed the excitement and willingness of Greek Life members to reach out to each other.
“[COVID] has forced us to stay closer. We do something called Anchor Buddies every week and normally it’s two members who get together and they spend fifteen minutes together and it’s a good way to check up on each other. Our current members are staying in contact with each other outside of those fifteen minutes. Everyone is super supportive of each other. It’s cool to see each of us going way out of our way to talk to each other,” Bjorklund said.
Staying connected and active is challenging for everyone this year, but Junior Reed Kottke hopes that the need to adapt will inspire creative solutions.
“We’re going to have to think of new ways to still be involved on campus and make an impact, and it will be really cool to see what people can still do virtually. It’s going to be different. Nothing can replace the experience you get in person. I hope that this year people can be creative with using Zoom and other platforms to stay connected and to meet the other new members of the Greek body at Gustavus,” Kottke said.
“It’s okay to just do your best this semester. As long as you continue to be there for one another and keep your chapter engaged, keep them focused on their values and goals, but not everything is going to translate to a COVID-friendly box.”
Recruitment did see lower numbers than in the past, but that was expected.
“We were just happy to be able to do it, we were happy it was successful, people got to meet a lot of new people and enjoy that, and now they get to start their time with their new members,” Watterson said.
“I am really excited to meet all of our new members. Even with COVID, I’m hoping that we can do some small events together and be able to spend some sort of quality time together, whether it be over Zoom or small COVID safe events,” Bjorklund said.
Now the 72 new Greek Life members will have the opportunity to participate in community service projects as well as diversity training, required of all Greek Life chapters this year.
“I was really proud of the community because they asked for that this summer. I had several students say ‘Hey, we know, or we’ve learned that Greek Life nationwide often has a very racist, suppressive history and we want to know more about that, we want to know what that means, we want that education.’ We’re all going to learn a lot working through it and talking together,” Watterson said.
Kottke notes that these kinds of educational opportunities are timely and able to fit within the restrictions of most events being virtual.
“Now’s the time more than ever to be committing yourself to be learning about these things and gaining new insight into those topics,” Kottke said.
The ability to engage with the community is one of the foundational aspects of Greek Life, and this year they are still hopeful they will have an impact and also learn from adapting to the circumstances.
“With social distancing and all the new guidelines, I’m hoping that we can still achieve the same level of impact on campus or the community or whatever national organization that your chapter contributes to. It will be interesting to see what new ways they can come up with, things that they may even carry with them in the future,” Kottke said.
Three of the eight Greek Life organizations are national chapters, which means that the other five are local chapters that only exist at Gustavus and are mainly guided by Watterson and the Dean of Students office.
“It means that we have a close working relationship. It’s a really good community to be a part of and a community that I love to advise,” Watterson said.
Watterson remains hopeful and is telling her advisees to do what they are able to despite the circumstances.