Sororities return to virtual recruitment in response to College’s ban on indoor social gatherings
The College will rely on Greek houses to police their own members on social gathering restrictions.
As a part of COVID-19 prevention measures for the start of the term, the College announced a suspension of indoor social gatherings until Jan. 18, a move that has prompted some Greek houses to adapt their winter rush processes. However, the College will not enforce the restriction, asking instead that members in houses hold one another responsible, according to Phi Tau president Kai Frey ’22.
Frey said that members of Greek leadership attended a meeting with interim Office of Greek Life director and associate dean of residential life Michael Wooten on Jan. 7 to discuss how the College plans to handle enforcement of the restrictions on indoor social gatherings.
According to Frey, when the College instituted a similar ban on Greek social gatherings last spring, enforcement seemed “random and unfair” to Greek members, causing some gatherings to be shut down and others to pass without incident. This term, Frey said, the College will not be sending members home or derecognizing houses that violate the social gathering prohibition.
Instead, according to Frey, the College will depend on Greek houses to police their own members.
“[The College is] relying on us to be a strong community and push through these first two, three weeks, so that we can have the rest of the term pretty normal,” Frey said.
Greek Leadership Council chair Brandon Zhou ’22 said that Greek house presidents are concerned about how the College defines organized indoor social gatherings.
“What does that mean for various activities or events that might happen in Greek life?” Zhou said. “Specifically, how might they apply to each chapter?”
According to Frey, though planned gatherings are banned, the College permits “spontaneous gatherings” that may occur when members happen to congregate in a certain area.
The Inter-Sorority Council announced in an Instagram post on Dec. 22 that the first round of winter sorority rush will occur virtually on the original dates from Jan. 13 to 15, while the second round will be postponed to Jan. 19 and 20 and will take place in person “if the gathering restrictions allow.”
Zhou said that virtual rush will benefit students who are in quarantine and would be unable to attend in-person events.
“I would say that having virtual rush definitely is more accessible for someone who, let’s say, might need to be in isolation because they have [COVID-19], for instance,” he explained.
In a follow-up interview, Zhou said that whether fraternity rush, which takes place later in the term than sorority rush, would be virtual is an “active conversation,” and that any changes will be made “in accordance with College policy.”
Sara Pickrell ’24, who plans to participate in winter sorority rush, said that virtual rush would take pressure off from talking to current sorority members compared to the in-person process.
“You’re not necessarily inundated with all these people, and you can pick a space where you are more comfortable versus a space where you hope in the future you’ll be comfortable but you’re not yet,” Pickell said.
However, Frey said that virtual gatherings can detract from the ability of members of a Greek house to build relationships with each other. Frey added that there is a disconnect between older Phi Tau members and younger ones, who rushed virtually.
Zhou also expressed disappointment about the lack of in-person social events, but added that he believes in the ability of the Greek community at Dartmouth to work together.
“I honestly can say for sure that I trust in the resilience of our communities to continue to grow from these experiences,” he said.
The presidents of Kappa Delta Epsilon sorority and Kappa Kappa Kappa, Gamma Delta Chi and Beta Alpha Omega fraternities declined to comment. All other fraternity and sorority presidents, as well as Wooten and the presidents of the Inter-Sorority Council and Interfraternity Council, did not respond to requests for comment.