Sororities adapt to COVID-19 with virtual recruiting

When freshman criminal justice major Maddy Kirby found out that sorority recruitment for fall semester was going to be held virtually, she was concerned that it would not live up to her expectations. 

“With recruitment being online, it definitely made the experience completely different than expected,” Kirby said. “I think there are always preconceived notions of what it is going to look like, and it was hard to have those standards met over Zoom.” 

Center for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines still recommend limiting gatherings to 10 people or less and to maintain physical distancing in Boise. Causing nearly all campus events, from sports events to student involvement events, to either be cancelled or moved to a virtual format.

In order to facilitate physical distancing, the decision to hold recruitment was made in July by sorority executive members on the Panhellenic Council and campus administration after first being discussed in June. During the recruitment process for fall of 2020, 624 women went through the process, many being first year students at Boise State. 

Sorority recruitment at Boise State normally takes place over a three day period. This year, recruitment was held over a span of two weeks. Mollie Jarrett, a senior majoring in health science and Panhellenic vice president of Community Involvement, played a major role in transitioning recruitment to Zoom.

“We got a lot of positive feedback from the chapters about virtual recruitment,” Jarrett wrote in an email. “Although it wasn’t the normal experience, chapters and new members really enjoyed it. It was also the safest option and we want to put the health of our community first.”

One of the biggest setbacks to virtual recruitment was not having the face-to-face interaction that most women get during this time, but efforts were made to mitigate that loss as well. 

“We fortunately had no major setbacks even with all the change. We did get a little nervous because there was a huge internet outage in Boise the morning recruitment was going to start but it got fixed before the first party,” Jarrett wrote. 

Despite all the changes, 450 girls still received bid cards into a chapter on campus, on average only 100 fewer women than prior years. 

Women going through recruitment were asked to submit a video of them talking about themselves for three minutes on the first day, then they were assigned a Rho Gamma to help them throughout their recruitment process. A Rho Gamma is a disaffiliated member from a chapter on campus, who advises women going through recruitment.

Natalie Christensen, a senior studying elementary education and the vice president of External Recruitment for panhellenic, said that there were benefits to having recruitment online.

“There were lots of positives to virtual recruitment. One big one like I mentioned before was that it took away a lot of the less positive things about recruitment like focus on directation, appearance, outfits, etc,” Christensen said. “It really came down to having conversations and making connections.” 

Christensen also said that sororities were not able to spend a lot of money on decorations and event space, which saved them money, and women were able to spend less to get ready as well. In some ways, it was even less awkward than in-person recruitment.

“I think once everyone got the hang of it, it was easier,” Christensen said. “You could be in your bed in PJs, not everyone had to be in the SUB all day, you’re not comparing yourself to the girl next to you in line.”

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