COVID-19 takes sorority recruitment online at UF

By Olivia Hyatt

COVID-19 has put many plans on hold, but for the Phi Sigma Sigma chapter at the University of Findlay it has only changed the way they have to do things. Phi Sigma Sigma’s fall 2020 recruitment began on Sept. 8; however, the chapter was notified from the National Panhellenic Conference only two weeks prior to the first night of recruitment it was to be entirely virtual. This decision made by nationals applies to every sorority under them as well, including Sigma Kappa, University of Findlay’s other sorority.

Brooke Weidenhammer, the membership recruitment chair, faced the challenge of creating a virtual recruitment plan in only two weeks. Normal, in-person recruitment typically  takes multiple months of planning for the sorority.

“I was really hoping for it not to be [virtual] so we could get the one on ones with the PNMs and get that personal connection” Weidenhammer stated.

Typically, the four-night event would have potential new members divided into two groups, where they would spend half the night with Phi Sigma Sigma and the other half with Sigma Kappa. There are four nights to recruitment- introductions, philanthropy, house tours, preference night- with the last night being invite only. Then, Saturday morning is bid day, which is where the potential new members get their official invites to join the sorority and run home to their soon-to-be sisters.

The new plan put everything entirely over Zoom, which limits a lot of what the chapter could do. The members could no longer divide into small groups with PNMs to have one-on-one conversations, which happens every night in-person. The bid day ceremony had to be held on Zoom, so new members were not able to run home, which is how current members find out who is joining the sorority.

Chyenne Lorezno, Phi Sigma Sigma president, says it’s challenging.

“But we’re going to have small breakout rooms over zoom so we can have intimate conversations with fewer people, but still being safe and virtual,” Lorenzo said.

This replacement is the closest the chapter can get to in-person one-on-one conversations.

Aracelli Cedeño, selection committee, feels confident current members and PNMs can get to know each other this way.

“I am confident that if I spend enough time with people, I can gauge their personality and if they’ll fit well with the chapter,” Cedeño said.

Weidenhammer, on the other hand, seems less confident than Lorenzo and Cedeño about the new virtual reality of recruitment.

“I think we’re going to make it work,” Weidendammer said.

With COVID-19 on the mind, she did have a back-up plan started in case recruitment went virtual; however, with the hope of in-person recruitment, the plan wasn’t fully formed. The main issue for her was the short notice.

“It’s a tad stressful, but I know the National Panhellenic Organization is looking out for our safety, so even though it’s stressful I know it’s going to be okay,” Lorenzo stated.

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