OPINION: Navigating my sorority membership during the pandemic

Sorority experience during COVID-19

Olivia Marshall

Disclaimer: This doesn’t represent the opinion or experience of my chapter nor the Greek life community as a whole. I am only speaking on my view in my chapter. 

At the beginning of August, I was supposed to come back down to Bowling Green for formal sorority recruitment. I’m a sister in the Delta Zeta sorority on campus, and I’ve loved every minute of my experience so far. 

Coming back to campus this year was a very different experience from last year. Instead of reuniting with friends with massive group hugs, late-night conversations and a few too many trips to the Great American Donut Shop, I was met with a completely virtual experience, but I’m glad that it happened this way. This sent a message to me, and possibly others, that our Panhellenic Council, executive board and advisors actually cared about our health and safety. 

I don’t know anyone within my sorority who isn’t taking the pandemic seriously. We have so many measures in place to ensure our health and safety, which I really appreciate since a handful of my sisters have health issues or are immunocompromised. 

Our president has made numerous announcements about the measures we as a chapter are taking to ensure everyone is on the same page. She has made it very clear to us that if we are caught not following the guidelines recommended by the governor, there will be consequences that the individual — and our chapter — would face. 

All major events are virtual for the foreseeable future. We’ve had virtual chapter meetings since March, so it won’t feel too weird to do. The weekly meetings for new members are currently scheduled to be in-person every other week, though they could go fully online. The only people who are allowed in the chapter house are the women who live there and even then, they are required to wear a mask in the common areas. 

The preparation that went into Bid Day compared to previous years was insane. Not only did we need to plan to welcome home a large group of new sisters, but we had to make sure people were following social distancing protocols and proper sanitization methods were used. 

We assigned time slots to each new member and their Bid Day buddy (an active member) to come to the chapter house and take pictures with the decorations. Women were also told to be in groups of less than 10. 

Currently, I am a part of a committee to plan Delta Zeta’s philanthropy week. Usually, we’d reserve a table in Downing Student Union or Centennial Mall to sell things like scrunchies or stickers, have benefit nights at different restaurants scattered across the week and have a big event at our house to wrap it up. This year, our vice president of philanthropy and I are having to come up with new and creative ideas to raise money for our philanthropy while trying to keep engagement up in the community. It’s not the easiest thing to figure out, but we’re figuring things out as we go. 

The idea that Greek life is solely to blame for the spike in COVID-19 cases is somewhat unwarranted. I don’t know what every chapter is doing, but most of the time people only see a fraction of what goes on behind the scenes. I do know that if a chapter were to break the rules they’d be facing serious consequences. Honestly, half of the parties that I’ve heard about this semester have just been put on by regular students. 

I don’t think there is really one particular group of people that should be blamed if the number of cases increases on campus. The fact of the matter is we were all told it’s safe to come back to campus and the pandemic is faltering, despite many signs that have pointed otherwise. I can’t predict how the rest of the semester will play out, but I can assume that we’re going to see more restaurant closings in the next couple of weeks.