Greek life sees changes, adapts to pandemic guidelines



Members of the fraternity Pi Kappa Alpha, also known as Pike, participate in service on GIVE Day, one of the events Greek Life organizations didn’t have to adapt much to fit pandemic guidelines.

Anna Malesiewski, Assistant Editor

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought on numerous challenges for groups and organizations across campus, including Greek life. Fraternities and sororities have had to adjust normal activities to meet university COVID-19 guidelines.

For both sororities and fraternities, events and meetings have been held virtually, via Zoom. In-person gatherings have been minimized or eliminated to ensure utmost safety.

Gamma Sigma Sigma has halted in-person sorority-wide service events. According to Katie Sherwin, a sophomore physical therapy major, the sorority has been cautious in regards to COVID and has adapted and resorted to alternate ways to participate in service.

“We have not been able to participate in service events as a sorority but instead we earn our hours by donating physical items to places such as the ANNA shelter and the Soldiers and Sailors home,” Sherwin said.

Sherwin is also disappointed to have missed out on traditional sorority events.

“One thing I am sad to have missed out on was the Big/Little reveal,” Sherwin said. “That was supposed to happen last semester in person and it is usually a very fun event. Instead it happened this semester via Zoom.”

Skylar Flanigan, a junior applied exercise science major, is sad to have missed out on activities with Sigma Sigma Sigma.

“I am disappointed to be missing out on formals and social events, and being able to spend time with all my sisters at the same time,” Flanigan said.

Tri Sigma is being extremely cautious and made safety a top priority, according to sophomore occupational therapy major Ella Rasper.

“Tri Sigma is following all protocols and encourages all to do the same,” Rasper said. “Our chapter meetings are hyflex, allowing us to continue to have some normality within all this craziness. Everyone is looking out for each other and wants everyone to be safe.”

Zach Werstler, a senior international business major and president of Tau Kappa Epsilon (TKE), said that they are maintaining the same energy regarding recruitment, even through the pandemic. Although recruitment events have had to be adapted, the excitement has not been lost.

“We have been trying to reach out and interact with recruits in the same way we always have,” Werstler said. “TKE is a very tightknit fraternity and we haven’t changed that attitude because of COVID.”

As for activities, TKE has had to cut its usual activities and events as well. There will be no social events this semester in order to help mitigate the spread of the virus. While some volunteer activities have had to be cut, TKE is still trying to adapt and find other ways to be involved in the community while still remaining safe.

Above all, TKE is focused on safety. According to Werstler, the utmost priority is everyone’s health and wellbeing. But even with all of the necessary restrictions, TKE is not totally idle this semester.

“I know I don’t want to get sick, and I don’t think anyone else wants to either,” Werstler said. “We have been working with IFC [Interfraternity Council] to get some events going that will increase involvement not just in the Greek community but the general Gannon population as well.”

Werstler is also missing the sense of community that comes with Greek life and all of its in-person activities and events. To him, conducting these events virtually is not the same. Members of TKE have grown to know well and be close with other members of Greek life, but in-person interaction among chapters has ceased due to adherence to university guidelines and mindfulness of safety.

“Especially as a senior this year and a leader in Greek life, I have found it hard not seeing the same atmosphere in the community,” Werstler said. “I think we will get better as we move forward but like everything, the change will take some time during this crisis.”

According to Brandon Boyce, junior math and psychology major, Pi Kappa Alpha (Pike) has also missed out on their usual events due to COVID. Although the social scene is much different this year, they are still doing their best to maintain some sense of normalcy while still being mindful of safety. Most activities have been adapted to a hybrid or virtual format, so members can still engage in social events in a safe manner.

“We’re a social organization at our core, and COVID has forced us to be social in ways we’ve never had to before,” Boyce said. “Our brothers have worked very hard to continue to do all of the work we normally do, particularly in academics and community service and philanthropy.”

As for recruitment, it did look different this year. However it still occurred, and Pike was able to welcome four new members into the fraternity this fall semester. Fall recruitment tends to be smaller, and because of this they were able to put together a movie night and formal recruitment.

Safety is a top priority for members of Pike. According to Boyce, the members of Pike have worked diligently to be as safe as possible in response to COVID-19.

“As soon as we returned to campus this semester, our Health and Safety Officer, Karim  Yousef, immediately began preparing,” Boyce said. “We follow CDC and Gannon guidelines, making sure that people are distanced and wearing masks, and we always make sure to have no more than 15 people in one place.”

“We are very grateful for the work that Gannon has been doing to contact trace and quarantine, but we’re also grateful for how diligent our members have been,” Boyce said.


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