Greek Spirit Thrives Online During COVID Pandemic

Pictured from left is the advisor of the Sigma Pi Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Janice Spann-Givens, Associate Director of Fraterntiy & Sorority Life Christianne Graham, President of the Multicultural Greek Council Mariana Correa, and President of the Panhellenic Council Mimi Salva at the August 26th Sorority Recruitment Fair.

Kali-Ray Skinner / Contributing Writer.

Down the hall of the Graham Center, bright colored t-shirts with the names of newly initiated young men and women, signify the start of the fall semester and more notably the start of Greek Life recruitment. 

Only this year, one thing is different: recruitment is solely online. 

With over 1300 members involved in 26 fraternities and sororities, Fraternity and Sorority Life at FIU, like many other student clubs and organizations, are facing the challenge of converting their in-person, community driven gatherings to an online format approved by the Center for Disease Control.

“We definitely have to go back to the drawing board,” said Mya Baxter, president of Kappa Delta Chi. “First and foremost we prioritize people’s safety, so if we have to meet online we’re going to do that versus putting people at risk.” 

FSL consists of four governing councils, including the National Pan-Hellenic Council, the Panhellenic Council, the Multicultural Greek Council, and the Interfraternity Council.

Currently, Greek Life is adapting to the pandemic by using different mediums of online communication, including the world’s new best friend, Zoom, as well as a more large-group friendly platform, called Airmeet. 

Airmeet offers a more interactive experience than Zoom, where attendees can join “tables”, sit in a social lounge, and experience major presentations that simulate in person events.

“We’re seeing how we can make KDChi more accessible to everybody from the comfort of their own home,” said Baxter.

FIU is no stranger to using Airmeet. 

The university recently hosted the Virtual Resource Fair, which made available over 30 departments to students. 

This event is displayed in Airmeet’s case study section of their website, where they offer examples of organizations and businesses success stories using the newly created, 2019 platform. 

Some events that FSL hosted in regards to recruitment are the Fraternity Recruitment Fair, Sorority Recruitment Fair, and the Black and Brown Greeks held from the 25th-27th of August. 

The Sorority Recruitment Fair, hosted on Aug. 26 featured MGC, NPC, and the PC members and councils speaking directly with students interested in recruitment. 

Associate Director of FSL, Christianne I. Medrano Graham, explained the history and purpose of FSL and outlined each council’s background and expectations. 

With over 170 participants in attendance, participants were able to see each others’ reactions through the use of emojis that expressed a myriad of emotions like excitement, happiness, laughter, and inevitably, slight frustration as there were some minor technical difficulties towards the end.

After attendees visited each of the tables to speak with the different chapters, Graham played the sororities videos for students to get a taste of the chapter’s spirit.

More events are planned for the future, like the upcoming “Do’s and Don’ts of Panhellenic Recruitment” and monthly events like Paws for a Cause and a Real Talk series. 

According to Graham, there will be no “university-sanctioned events” approved.

However, there is a glimmer of hope. 

Councils seeking in-person or hybrid events can petition to external affairs at FIU to have their event be approved. 

“The ballrooms which is the primary space for pageants, used to be able to seat 600 people now is at max capacity of 78,” Graham explained. “If they are approved to hold this on campus event, they will work with the Graham center to be able to Livestream it.”

As this is a new interworking between FSL and External Relations, Graham mentioned that the odds are still unknown with what the university will and won’t approve. 

Plans for big fundraiser events such as the FSL pageants have been discussed with having a certain amount of people in person for the event, while livestream viewers can interact and donate online. 

Mariana Correa, president of Multicultural Greek Council, agreed that while things will look different this semester, her chapter is working hard, along with others, adapting to the virtual platform, and is hopeful for hybrid events.

“No one really knows how things are going to go 100%, since this is a global pandemic,” Correa said. “Both organizations and councils are doing their best to adapt, to make sure that potential new members are getting as much of an experience as they can, even though it is virtual.” 

For more information about recruitment dates and deadlines, follow the Fraternity and Sorority Life Instagram page @fiufsl.