Panhellenic sorority recruitment remains in-person for fall 2020

Illustration by Vanessa Purpura / The Daily Gamecock

Panhellenic sorority recruitment will begin in-person starting Aug. 10. Face coverings, a 50-person event capacity and 6 feet of distance between students are some of the social distancing measures that will be enforced.

“There's been a lot of thinking outside of the box, trying to rethink things that we've done previously, to kind of adapt to the new situation this year,” Mary Best, vice president of recruitment for the College Panhellenic Association (CPA), said.

Early move-in will be on a rolling basis, and each round has been extended in order to follow social distancing measures.

Last year, close to 1,500 women participated in USC’s Panhellenic sorority recruitment.

This year, events will be capped at 50 people and students will be required to be six feet apart, following both CDC and university guidelines.

Face coverings will also be required for both potential new members (PNMs) and active members during each round of recruitment. The cost of the face coverings is covered in the registration fee PNMs pay.

PNMs are either incoming or current students who are going through recruitment. Active members are students currently in sororities.

For each sorority a PNM visits, there will only be 25 PNMs and 25 active members in the house at a time. There are 13 Panhellenic sororities PNMs will visit in the first round of recruitment.

“Our goal was to keep the experience as normal as possible for PNMs,” Best, also a fourth-year international studies and Spanish student, said.

Pi Chi’s, or the sorority recruitment counselors, return to campus a week before recruitment for a spirit week leading up to the PNM’s arrival. Learning about safety and health requirements will be a part of this training.

CPA's directors of accountability will be enforcing social distancing measures for both the sororities and PNMs.

Carli Mercer, the staff advisor for CPA and associate director of fraternity and sorority life at USC, said there have been many conversations with national organizations to help guide the planning for recruitment.

“Recruitment is an important experience to all of our chapters,”Rachel May, the president of CPA, said. “But at the end of the day, it's really about the PNMs, and so we've been really trying to preserve as much of the typical experience as we can just so that PNMs this year are still able to have those conversations with members.”

Best said that one of her biggest pieces of advice for PNMs is to have an open mind and to have fun.

“I think, especially this year, the women that are coming through, the past couple months have been different, difficult for a lot of people, like a lot of them might have missed graduation or prom or other things they were looking forward to,” Best said. 

Both Best and May have been working closely with the sorority presidents, recruitment chairs and vice presidents of membership to get feedback and talk through ideas about the changes to recruitment this year.

“As long as you're following these safety guidelines and these basic rules, you can kind of put your own style into it and sort of what works best for your chapter” May, a fourth-year exercise science student, said. 

Jarod Holt, the director of fraternity and sorority life at USC, said contingency management is key.

Best said they are still working on virtual alternatives if there is a PNM or active member who does not feel comfortable or cannot do in-person recruitment.

If a student is diagnosed with the coronavirus during recruitment, they will be given the option to continue with recruitment if they want virtually.

“We're kind of still working out that virtual model of what it would look like to help her transition into virtual recruitment events so that she still can have, you know, the recruitment experience and continue to participate,” Best said.

In previous years, bid day was held at Colonial Life Arena. But because of social distancing requirements, Best said, they are talking about doing it in Greek Village in shifts.

Once the first group of PNMs receives their bids, they will need to leave the house so the next group can come in.

Even with all of these changes, May said it could be for the better.

“A lot of the things that we're thinking about changing and switching are things that we're like, 'oh, actually, this might be something that we want to keep doing,'” May said. “This actually might be better going forward.”

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