With fall 2020 under way, our undergraduate brothers have been working diligently to help chapters safely recruit and provide engaging programming. Despite the challenges of attending college during the pandemic, chapters are successfully adapting, whether they’re back on campus or taking classes online. Here, chapter officers share how they’re managing safety, recruitment and member development, rising to meet the unprecedented challenges COVID-19 has presented.
Prioritizing member safety
For housed chapters at schools that have resumed in-person classes, keeping brothers safe is of the utmost importance this year. Chapters have been proactive about preventing the spread of the coronavirus through enacting plans focused on enhanced cleaning protocols, social distancing and wearing masks. When members have tested positive, they’ve worked closely with their alumni, SigEp staff and universities to quarantine or isolate as necessary, helping reduce potential infection.
“At Oklahoma Alpha, we recognized early on that the COVID-19 pandemic was going to affect our chapter operations greatly, and our executive board quickly went to work to ensure that our brotherhood would continue to be meaningful, engaging, and, most importantly, safe during the fall 2020 semester. To ensure safety for our members and our fellow students, the chapter implemented new COVID-19 protocols. These regulations include separate places to enter and exit throughout the chapter house to mitigate the spread of the virus.
“Additionally, the chapter installed hand-sanitizing stations at all entrances and exits and has a mask requirement in all common areas. The executive board also implemented a no-guest policy in the house. Finally, working in conjunction with our alumni and volunteer corporation, the executive board implemented strict sanitation schedules and a full-house sanitization fogging, which has allowed us to keep viral spread to a minimum.” — Kase Anderson, Oklahoma State ’22, chapter president
“While we implemented many precautions to deter the spread [of COVID-19], we unfortunately were unable to stop a large portion of our residents from getting sick. However, we were praised by campus officials for our response. We were clear and upfront, reporting all positive test cases to campus officials, rather than keeping them in the dark, as other fraternities were accused of doing. We were quick to follow the instructions of campus officials by moving our positive cases into isolation locations Georgia Tech had set up.” — Christian Mancillas, Georgia Tech ’22, chapter president
Creating new paradigms for recruitment
Due to the restrictions on in-person gatherings at many universities, brothers are making an even greater effort to get to know potential new members through virtual recruitment. They’re utilizing a new digital tool — the mySigEp portal — for the whole chapter to be able to add potential new members to their pipeline. And they’re hosting events virtually, from Balanced Man Scholarship interviews and awards banquets to fun get-to-know-you programs. Chapters have shown that social distancing doesn’t have to be an obstacle for recruitment success.
“We tripled our Balanced Man Scholarship applications this year, and held virtual interviews of applicants throughout the summer. For the ‘banquet,’ since we could not gather in person, we allowed all the winners to pick up a meal from the restaurant where we would have had the banquet, and then, we announced the winners over Zoom. Our BMS chairman personally delivered the awards to winners while wearing a mask. In total, we signed 10 new members from the BMS. Overall, between the BMS, Western Kentucky’s recruitment week and our continued recruitment efforts, we’ve signed 26 new members this fall.” — Zack Payne, Western Kentucky’ 22, vice president of recruitment
“One of the biggest objections we heard over the summer is that it’s hard to join a fraternity without getting to meet a lot of the brothers like you normally would at a recruitment event. We got tired of hearing this objection, so we put on a virtual recruitment event. We had the potential new members and current brothers introduce themselves, and then we went into breakout groups on Zoom for a more personal experience and gave the PNMs an opportunity to truly get to know the brothers and ask questions.
“Through continued efforts of the recruitment committee and new members, we ended the summer at 18 new members. Since school began, we signed another four new members, putting us at 22 new members currently. Normally, our recruitment numbers are in the high 20s. We are determined to reach our goal of 26 new members by the new year. But with enrollment down this year, we’re super excited about the 22 members we’ve already recruited.” — Noah Limbach, Nebraska-Kearney ’22, vice president of recruitment
“Over the summer, we hosted Zoom events for incoming freshmen who had applied to our Balanced Man Scholarship. We hoped to provide them with an opportunity to learn more about campus, learn how to get involved and ask any questions they might have about college in the absence of in-person freshman orientation this summer. Since returning to campus, we have tried to increase our service programming and invited potential new brothers to participate. Outdoor games like wiffleball and spikeball have been great casual events that allow us to get to know people while also maintaining social distancing and wearing masks.
“I am now working on planning and scheduling a series of professional development workshops that would be open to all brothers, potential new members and Balanced Man Scholarship applicants. I hope this series will demonstrate the kind of tremendous value the SigEp experience can provide.” — Greg Pierson, Missouri ’23, vice president of recruitment
Maintaining high-quality member development and programming
Keeping members engaged is a huge challenge as many chapters are operating virtually or face limitations on the number of brothers who can participate in in-person gatherings. Chapters holding online-only activities have worked to combat Zoom fatigue by adding fun twists to programming, bringing in engaging speakers and partnering with their universities to augment their Balanced Man Program.
“We’ve been doing Zoom workouts as part of our sound body programming. An exciting thing about this is that we’ve invited sororities to join us for some of the workouts. It’s kind of competitive, but in a friendly way. The chapter has also done yoga and meditation over Zoom, and we’re looking at doing other workouts.
“Another exciting thing we’ve done is to start an alumni speaker series, where we have alumni speak on different topics. Our first speaker is an engineer, and he talked about his career and how SigEp has influenced his life. We’ve also had other alumni speak about financial literacy, the COVID-19 crisis, and resume writing and interview skills. For our next event, we wanted to switch things up and do something really fun. We’re participating in a cooking competition with alumni.” — Adrian Galera, Cal State-Northridge ’21, chapter president
“We are running a brand-new pilot program called the LEAD Program (Leadership Education And Development) concurrently with the already successful Balanced Man Program. We worked with our career center to add the LEAD Program, which is currently only available to members of Florida Epsilon. It’s designed to provide professional and personal development to prepare our brothers for life after college and provides us access to LinkedIn courses that we can take for free.
“Unfortunately, in the wake of the coronavirus, we had to move our BMP challenges and meetings online, so that we can abide by Florida State University regulations. Regardless of the circumstances, we know with the programming set in place, brothers will benefit from investing in these programs.” — Nick Amaro, Florida State ’22, vice president of member development