UI Fraternity and Sorority Life adopts all-virtual, hybrid models for recruitment

While some University of Iowa FSL councils are adopting hybrid recruitment models, the Panhellenic Council will proceed with virtual recruitment this fall.


Jerod Ringwald

University of Iowa sorority, Alpha Phi, is seen on Sunday, Aug. 22, 2021.

Anthony Neri, News Reporter

Students hoping to join a sorority typically endure long days and travel between chapter houses in the sun, but potential new members will partake in the University of Iowa recruitment process from their rooms on Zoom this year, for the second recruitment season in a row.

The University of Iowa campus Panhellenic Council, made up of 14 sororities, announced a fully virtual fall recruitment plan per the most recent guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Panhellenic Conference, and increased reports of COVID-19 in Johnson County as of Aug. 12.

In the council’s announcement, it cited the high transmissibility of the delta variant of the coronavirus, and the difficulty of isolating exposed individuals or groups, as reasons for its decision.

Allyson Farley, a member of Panhellenic sorority Alpha Epsilon Phi, said she supports the council’s wholly virtual model. She said she believes it would not be safe or inclusive to restrict recruitment to in-person interactions.

In her experience with virtual recruitment, she said she has “lost none of the experiences of sisterhood or Greek Life at the UI throughout my recruitment.”

According to an email sent on July 30, about 373 students were signed up for fall 2021 recruitment. Around the same time in fall 2020, about 700 members were signed up.

As of Aug. 20, 687 potential new members are signed up for fall 2021 recruitment, according to information provided to The Daily Iowan.

The UI’s Interfraternity Council will use a hybrid recruitment model this year as well, with both virtual and in-person components, according to Will Hochman, the council’s acting president.

The Multicultural Greek Council, made up of nine chapters representing Latinx, Asian, and LGBTQ+ communities, also moved to a hybrid model, according to the council’s website. Fall 2021 recruitment for the council will begin Aug. 30, according to the council’s website.

“Having a virtual option for members creates more accessibility for potential new members,” Hochman said.

He added that the council’s decision is based on a concern for the health and safety of its members.

COVID-19 has not kept students from joining the recruitment process, however. Hochman said enrollment for Interfraternity Council recruitment has increased since the pandemic began.

At this time last year, 92 students were signed up for fraternity recruitment. In August 2019, 53 students had signed up, compared to 177 students signed up for recruitment this year.

Hochman listened to student feedback on the virtual recruitment model, he said, and found the hybrid option more friendly to people who are anxious about the spread of COVID-19.

Jacob Olson, president of Phi Kappa Theta, part of the Interfraternity Council, said he understood why the changes were implemented, but does not find them necessary, given high vaccination rates and the decision to reinstate full capacity at Kinnick Stadium and in the university’s dining halls.

Olson added that it has been difficult to keep recruitment events popular, describing the virtual experiences of potential new members as being “like listening to a really short, boring lecture.”

Virtual recruitment “was really hard,” Olson said, because people didn’t necessarily want to sit in a Zoom call.

Hochman said he predicts that a virtual recruitment model may remain an option for years to come.

“It’s a lot easier to meet members and talk to people from the computer in the comfort of your home rather than going to in-person recruitment events and feeling a little bit intimidated and having a lot of social pressure surrounding that situation,” he said.

“… I would also say that, when we offer virtual aspects of recruitment, this really opens up how many chapters a student can meet.”

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