Over the past few days, the Inter-Fraternity Council and Inter-Sorority Council have made a number of changes to recruitment to provide additional protection to those who live and work in and around Grounds. These changes are welcome — they will lead to everyone’s increased safety. That being said, these adjustments will be futile if regulations are not enforced and fraternity and sorority members are not held accountable, should they choose to break rules.
COVID-19 precautions on Grounds continue to be of the utmost importance. Hospitalizations at U.Va. Health are at an all-time high and there are more than 400 active cases of COVID-19 on Grounds. Indeed, most University students are already vaccinated and at low risk for developing serious symptoms. However, increased hospitalizations due to COVID-19 do not solely affect those who contract the virus. It bears repeating — University students are not the only ones at risk. We must respect the health of others in our community.
The IFC has confirmed that its recruitment process will move entirely online. The ISC has also made changes to its original plans, confirming that it will move house tours online and keep preferences and bid day in person. These updated guidelines are critical to maintaining the health of those in and around the University community, and we commend both groups for taking these necessary steps
However, the increased restrictions do not mean that we do not still have reason to be wary. We all watched last spring as COVID-19 cases sharply increased following in-person recruitment — despite the IFC and ISC leadership and University administration’s assurance that precautions taken would be enough to prevent a spike. We saw selfish members of Greek life put everyone’s lives at risk by brazenly ignoring COVID-19 policies. Following recruitment, more than 500 cases of COVID-19 were recorded in a single week. Although the IFC admitted instances of violation, they failed to take accountability for their own policymaking’s role in last spring’s dramatic uptick in cases. Given last year’s evidence, there is no reason to give these organizations the benefit of the doubt. This year must be different — COVID-19 guidelines must be enforced and those who violate them must be held accountable.
Indeed, this year’s situation is not exactly the same as last year — both the IFC and ISC have instituted increased precautionary measures that did not previously exist. Nevertheless, it is concerning that both groups’ leaderships took so long to change course and that University administration had to so extensively encourage them to do so. Considering reluctance to take action this year, combined with an overt lack of action during last year, we call on IFC and ISC leadership to enforce their guidelines. The public health demands it.
To be frank, IFC and ISC leadership and University administration — for reasons of public health — needed to implement more stringent recruitment guidelines. Now that they have, the responsibility for a safe recruitment process lies in the hands of the students themselves. Students — recognize that you are not the only ones at risk. Rising hospitalizations prevent health care providers from sufficiently treating anyone who needs their services. Now that hospital beds are full with COVID-19 patients, others are dying in emergency rooms from diseases that doctors no longer have the capacity to treat. Students, your recruitment is not more important than the health and safety of others.
The first weekend of in-person recruitment activities is approaching. We appreciate and are in full support of the increased guidelines made thus far. However, considering the events of last year's rush, our approval is wary. IFC and ISC leadership must hold their fraternities and sororities accountable, and the University must enforce this — last year cannot repeat itself. Moreover, while the University has taken crucial steps to encourage these new regulations, we cannot ignore that the University always had the power to move rush online and has always had the power to hold accountable those in fraternities and sororities who choose to break the rules. This isn’t over yet.
The Cavalier Daily Editorial Board is composed of the Executive Editor, the Editor-in-Chief, the two Opinion Editors, their Senior Associate and an Opinion Columnist. The board can be reached at email@example.com.