The Inter-Sorority Council and the Inter-Fraternity Council announced Jan. 26 that Greek chapters will be able to hold in-person gatherings as long as they follow University, city and state public health guidelines to curb the spread of COVID-19. Their announcement permits chapters to hold in-person recruitment events, which begin Friday — while the ISC will only allow chapters to have in-person meetings on bid day, IFC chapters are permitted to host in-person recruitment rounds before bid day.
In a joint statement announcing the reversal of its ban on in-person gatherings — which was originally implemented in August — both organizations emphasized that that the reversal does not permit chapters to host parties, mixers, date functions or formals and emphasized that failure to comply with the policy may result in sanctions up to and including chapter suspension for the rest of the academic year. Before the ban was established, fraternities and sororities hosted gatherings in the spring and summer at which many attendees failed to adhere to social distancing and masking guidelines.
“In the fall, doing our part meant suspending all forms of in-person organization, which proved necessary and effective,” the statement read. “With more information and building upon the largely positive behavior exhibited this past semester, the IFC and ISC are revising our [gathering] policy to be in line with the University’s guidelines.”
This reversal allows Greek life recruitment and bid day events to be held in person, as long as chapters obey University, city and state guidelines, including the University’s six-person gathering limit. Individuals will be required to maintain social-distancing practices and wear masks while not eating or drinking during recruitment.
In an email statement to The Cavalier Daily, Dean of Students Allen Groves said that because the ISC and IFC are organizations “independent of the University,” they are able to “set their own policies for new member recruitment.” Regardless, Groves emphasized that both the ISC and IFC must comply with the University’s SEC-045 policy, which restricts gathering sizes, mandates social distancing and requires students, faculty and staff to wear face coverings anytime they are outside their personal residence.
Andrew Huffman, IFC president and third-year College student, said Greek leadership wants to acknowledge the Greek community for abiding by the ISC and IFC’s gathering ban during the fall semester.
“The Greek community stepped up huge this past semester and showed that they were willing to sacrifice the parties and the large events that they are typically known for in order to help protect public safety,” Huffman said.
Groves also expressed confidence in the ability of Greek chapters to adhere to public health guidelines during their recruitment processes. During the fall, Groves told The Cavalier Daily that students generally complied with public health guidelines, but cited gatherings along Rugby Road and Gordon Avenue during the last few weekends of the semester as evidence of a “slippage” in adherence.
“ISC and IFC leadership have expressed a commitment to conduct new member recruitment safely in light of the COVID pandemic,” Groves said.
In an email statement to The Cavalier Daily, Katie Kirk, ISC vice president of recruitment for potential new members and fourth-year College student, said ISC chapters are not required to gather in-person for bid day events but have the option to do so. The four recruitment rounds prior to bid day — round robins, philanthropy, house tours and preferences — will occur via Zoom over the first two weekends of school.
In the past, the ISC has seen over 2,000 current sorority members and around 1,000 potential new members — women looking to join a sorority — participate in the formal recruitment process. Formal recruitment will begin Friday and conclude the weekend of Feb. 14 with house tours, preferences and bid day. Typically, sororities welcome around 50 new members on bid day, and there are upwards of 150 women in a single chapter.
Though all formal recruitment rounds for ISC chapters will be held virtually, some sorority chapters are planning for in-person bid day events. Bid day — the last day of formal recruitment when women receive invitations to join chapters — will occur Feb. 14.
“Each chapter will run their own bid days a bit differently, under the same guidelines provided by the ISC, University, city and state,” Kirk said. “Some specific guidance has been provided encouraging gathering outside rather than inside when possible, if chapters are providing food ensuring that it’s individually packaged, etc.”
The sorority Kappa Delta plans to allow potential new members to opt to attend an in-person bid day gathering. Ashley Good, Kappa Delta president and third-year College student, said that the new pledge class will meet with last year’s pledge class in outdoor groups of six or less with social distancing and masks, which will be provided to members. Older pledge classes, meanwhile, will meet up in groups of six people or less to take photos and celebrate bid day earlier that morning.
“We do not want to pressure any new or current members to meet in person, so there will be lots of virtual options too,” Good said. “We are requiring everyone to have masks on at all times, including [in] all pictures, and we are distributing masks with our bid day shirts.”
In the case of inclement weather, Good said her chapter will hold bid day remotely “to avoid indoor gatherings as much as possible.”
Meanwhile, the IFC — which is made up of over 1,700 members from 32 chapters across Grounds — will permit its chapters to hold some in-person recruitment rounds amongst current brothers and potential new members. Open house events — the first recruitment round — will be entirely virtual while the later formal recruitment rounds can be held in person, though potential new members have the option of attending virtually.
Huffman said the IFC has assembled a task force of over 160 fraternity brothers — with each chapter contributing at least five members — to enforce the University, city, and state COVID-19 guidelines during recruitment and bid day. In an email to The Cavalier Daily, Huffman said task force members will report “egregious violation[s],” which will be adjudicated on later in the day.
Those who commit minor violations will be reported to their chapters and receive the opportunity to adhere to guidelines. If they continue to violate IFC health protocols, the individual will be reported to the IFC.
Huffman said that the IFC Governing Board plans to meet every night to address infractions, if they arise. According to Huffman, violators will also be liable to the University Judiciary Committee, which adjudicates cases of noncompliance with public health measures and University policies.
“While I do expect there to be some violations, I am not expecting them to be of any sort of scale that would scare me,” Huffman said. “These violations will be addressed as immediately as possible.”
Contrary to the ISC’s in-person bid day events — which the organization is encouraging chapters to hold outdoors — the IFC is permitting members and potential new members to go to restaurants, so long as they eat within groups of six or less individuals.
According to Huffman and the IFC’s public release on recruitment protocol, all recruitment events are pre-approved by the IFC and the number of potential new members permitted in fraternity houses is limited. During final hours and bid day, only fraternity members who live in the house, four brothers of choice, and one potential new member will be allowed in each house.