[Photo: 2018 Panhellenic Sorority Bid Day, The All State Archives]
Fraternities and sororities were second in a string of precautionary postponements of in-person meetings.
“Effective immediately, we are suspending all formal and informal face-to-face meetings and social activities for fraternities and sororities for two weeks (Oct. 7-21) due to exposures to COVID-19,” the COVID-19 Task Force said in an email sent to all APSU students, faculty and staff.
The meetings postponed, the task force clarified, include both on and off-campus activities.
“I understand why they did it, and I agree with it, but the method they went about canceling all Greek life; I don’t think it was received very well,” Emily Waldon, communication major and Alpha Sigma Alpha sorority member said. “They didn’t tell us first. They told the entire school.”
Prior to fraternities and sororities, music classes had to move to remote instruction for two weeks after the COVID-19 Task Force became aware of “a small number of COVID-19 cases related to specific music classes,” as they indicated in their campus-wide email at the time, Sept. 8.
Bill Persinger executive director for public relations and marketing, said that this Greek life postponement is just the same.
“This is no different than our pivot a few weeks ago with the Music department, where we temporarily shifted music classes to remote classes and are holding more face-to-face performance classes outdoors, utilizing the tent set up in the plaza between the Art + Design and Trahern buildings,” Persinger said.
Waldon thinks this two-week postponement of events is not entirely comparable, however, as Greek life is a student organization.
“A social club is a little bit different. When you talk to one group, usually you’re supposed to talk to all of them, because if we meet up all the time and I’m in another organization, then the same problems could be arising. It was a little bit unclear of why it was just Greek life mentioned and not the other organizations on campus,” Waldon said.
Additionally, Waldon points out that it was just “Greek letters” that had to delay in-person events and activities for two weeks and not “honor Greeks” or other Greek organizations that are not social clubs.
“I was told at the very beginning of the year that since I was in Greek life they were going to be looking at us more, because we’re social clubs,” Waldon said. “So, we’re going to be the first people that they’re going to really watch before they watch any other group, because we’re just known to gather together and hang out all the time.”
Based on this, Waldon attempted to be extra careful in how she followed precautionary measures on campus.
“I always tried to do everything that I was supposed to do, so I wouldn’t incorrectly represent my chapter or Greek life in general. So, it was just a little frustrating when other people didn’t follow the rules like they were supposed to, and it affected all of us,” Waldon said.
“I do think it is important to keep in mind that any change like this is not punitive and simply a precautionary measure due to confirmed positive cases and exposures,” Persinger said.
Waldon explained that the way her chapter’s calendar is set up they have to do their events in a specific order. So, postponement is not an option. Therefore, they are moving all virtual for these next two weeks.
“At least we’re still doing it. At least we’re not putting it to the side, because it’s important and we shouldn’t,” Waldon said. “At the same time, it makes things a little bit more difficult for people, because they already had these events planned, and they have to completely re-do them.”
If Greek life has to spend more time operating virtually in the future, Waldon fears future recruits won’t be able to gain as full an experience.
“With quarantining and everything it does take a damper on your mental health. When I joined college the whole reason to join a sorority was to meet people and really get that social connection that I needed on campus at first,” Waldon said. “With it all on pause, while we can still gain a little bit out of it from virtual, it’s not the full extent as being in person with other people.”
Recruitment as a whole has been affected this semester.
“Recruitment was really low. Usually, it ranges in like the hundreds, two-hundreds every year. It has lessened over the years, but this semester it was down almost half of what it normally is,” Waldon said.
“I don’t want to put anyone at risk of getting this [virus] if we can help it, but it definitely puts a damper on what social Greek life is about,” Waldon said.
Waldon compares Greek life to a support system and while it isn’t gone she says it is “a little different now.”
Since the announcement that Greek life in-person activities and meetings would be postponed for two weeks on Oct. 7, Medical laboratory science senior-level classes will be moving to remote instruction Oct. 11 through Oct. 25, due to possible exposures to COVID-19, according to a campus-wide email sent Oct. 11 by the COVID-19 Command Team.
Students are urged to monitor themselves for symptoms and if you have symptoms, please get tested at Boyd Health Services, located in the ARD Building, Monday through Friday between 9-11 a.m.
Students can also use Peay Mobile’s Daily Pre-screening to help determine their status.