The Signal

Serving the College since 1885

Tuesday August 16th

Greek life returning to normalcy – but not without limitations

<p><em>Members of the Alpha Xi Delta sorority at a bonding event (Photo courtesy of Kelly Biancamano). </em></p>

Members of the Alpha Xi Delta sorority at a bonding event (Photo courtesy of Kelly Biancamano).

By Alexandra Copeland

After a full year of activities that were completely dependent on the state of Covid-19, sorority life in Alpha Xi Delta (AXID) is finally shifting back to the way it was when junior Kelly Biancamano entered it: free of lagging screens, crashing computers and Zoom links. 

“We had some Zoom events last semester, but not many people showed up,” Biancamano, an early childhood education and iSTEM major, said. “They all had Zoom fatigue.”

Like AXID, many sororities and fraternities have been able to gather in person after a long period of Covid-restricted activities. Being in person has allowed these groups to further support their philanthropies, as well as create bonds between their new and existing members through social events. But, even with greater bonding opportunities, there are still lingering struggles that Greek organizations must adjust to.

Money was raised through virtual bingo boards that AXID members posted on Instagram, where those who wanted to donate would send money to the organization through Venmo, according to Biancamano. Though this type of fundraising was beneficial, it lacked the interactive quality of service work that has allowed members in the past to become emotionally connected to their cause.

“You need to be fully immersed in what you are doing,” said junior early childhood special education and psychology major Bella Lafata, the vice president of programming for the Delta Phi Epsilon sorority. 

Due to loosened policies and a lower number of Covid-19 cases, sororities and fraternities have recently been able to hold philanthropic events in person. Each organization has its own cause to support through service events, and these events were limited to online fundraising and outdoor activities during the past year. 

Junior nursing major Jolie Sheeran, the philanthropy chair for AXID, also believes that holding philanthropy events in person is more beneficial than in a virtual setting.

“I think that in-person events are more impactful and they translate a message better than virtual,”  Sheeran said. “Being virtual removed you from the cause.”

It has been difficult for the sorority to receive full attendance from all members when it comes to non-virtual events, due to the shifting expectations that come with an in-person setting, according to Sheeran.

“Participation is a whole different thing,” Sheeran said. “Some people think it’s just keeping your camera on, which doesn’t work when you’re planning events.”

Even with the issue of participation, Sheeran still sees a desire from members to get involved in their philanthropy. But as many of the sisters have never experienced sorority life in person, it can be difficult for them to understand the meaning behind events and to have motivation to attend them. 

“Some of the girls don't have experience, so they lose some of that drive to participate,” Sheeran said. “There’s want, but there has to be follow-through.”

There are also other drawbacks that have resulted from Covid-19. Lafata explained how event materials that were ordered online have taken longer to arrive due to delayed shipping, which has been an issue since the beginning of the pandemic. 

Despite having the ability to hold in-person events, some sororities and fraternities still decided to hold certain events virtually, either due to attendance size, scheduling issues or just convenience in general.

“At certain times it's easier to plan an event when all of our meetings can be held online, so it’s much easier to organize things,” Sheeran said. 

Sometimes, meetings and events are held online in order to accommodate the schedules of all members. 

“A lot of our sisterhood events are in person, but they are also on Zoom a lot of the time because they’re late after class,” said freshman nursing major Mariella Ibarretta, a member of the Kappa Delta sorority.

Being in a virtual setting has also sparked new ideas that have helped sororities and fraternities fundraise for their philanthropies. According to junior communications major Chris Hunt, the vice president of programming for Beta Theta Pi, an event was held over quarantine where members of the fraternity posted videos of themselves performing dares in order to raise money for the Make-a-Wish Foundation.

“The dare project was so successful that we want to do it again,” Hunt said. “We can get the guys to do it together, which would make it even better.”

With eased restrictions and declining Covid-19 cases, most Greek life events have been held in person so far this semester. From philanthropy to social events, being in person has allowed members of these groups to bond more with each other while also becoming more connected with their causes.

“It’s a lot easier and better this upcoming semester,” Lafata said. “We won’t have those physical constraints.”

Greek life organizations have also been able to gather to create donations for their causes. 

“We made Christmas baskets together, about 30, for children in Trenton,” Biancamano said, referring to the end of the fall semester. “It’s been nice to be able to do things in person.”

Lafata’s sorority, Delta Phi Epsilon, is planning to hold an event called “Deepher Dude,” which is a pageant held to raise money for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.

These philanthropic events, along with social events, have allowed Greek life members to create a bond with each other, especially for returning members who have spent the past few semesters separated from each other.

“I feel like I didn’t get super close with my pledge class until we were in person,” Biancamano said. 

Even with less restrictions, there is still some hesitation from Greek life members about the omicron variant. Sophomore English major Joseph Rufolo, member of the Alpha Chi Rho fraternity, emphasized the importance of maintaining caution despite the declining number of cases. 

“In a way, some of us are more concerned than usual,” Rufolo said. “It just shows that it’s still out there and we have to be careful.”

Even with the omicron variant, there has been a recent decline in New Jersey’s Covid-19 cases, creating a positive outlook for Greek life’s future.

“We have everything in person now, so I feel like it could only get better,” said freshman interactive multimedia major Molly McEntee, a member of the AXID sorority. 


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