This year College Panhellenic (CPH) recruitment at the University of Mississippi looked a little different than usual. There were still shrieks of joy when the virtual bids were opened, but young women celebrated in their dorm rooms instead of the lawns of their greek houses. With the COVID-19 pandemic still affecting colleges across the country, typical activities have had to adapt to the new normal and follow the guidelines in place to keep everyone safe.
Ole Miss had one of the later recruitment dates for schools in the southeast, so CPH was able to see what worked and what didn’t as other schools ran recruitment at varying levels of normal. As the state of Mississippi continued to see a rise in the number of cases, the university made the decision to make all of recruitment virtual.
“Even before other schools started recruitment, we had backup plans to go virtual,” said Shelby D’Amico, CPH President. “We were gradually moving in that direction but the week before classes started, we decided to move everything online. This was to ensure the safety of our PNMs and chapter members.”
CPH sororities were charged with showcasing their sisterhood through videos and Zoom sessions. New questions about what involvement within a sorority would look like for this semester also arose. For potential new members (PNMs) this was not the ideal situation, but it provided each one with a new perspective on the meaning of sisterhood.
Active members of each sorority had to learn how to adapt to this unique situation and make every PNM feel welcome and informed throughout the recruitment process. Shelby Philips, a member of Chi Omega, recalled her experience with recruitment.
“As a sophomore, I expected singing, jumping, and super late nights all week,” said Philips. “Of course, that is not what this year looked like at all. Thankfully, I was able to make the best of it despite being quarantined until Wednesday of recruitment week. My roommate and I are in Chi Omega together, and we were Zoom partners during recruitment. It was disappointing that we couldn’t participate in philanthropy Zoom rounds in person due to being quarantined, but we were thankful we could participate from home.”
As the backbone for the entire operation CPH Executive Board members ensured that recruitment moved along smoothly and safely. With new challenges, they communicated changes throughout the week. Originally the preference round of recruitment was set to be held in person as a final opportunity for PMNs to see what they would be joining and the physical houses themselves. When cases spiked on campus the week before recruitment, it became evident that the best option would be moving the special ceremonies online. All members of College Panhellenic had to adapt quickly for the sake of each PNM.
Recruitment counselors are required to disaffiliate from their chapter and serve as guides for PNMs throughout the process. Anna Charlotte Lavers, VP of Recruitment Counselors, shared her experience during this unconventional recruitment week.
“My time disaffiliated really allowed me to focus on the Panhellenic community from a broader viewpoint,” said Lavers. “Working with every chapter and truly advocating for them all from an unbiased place allowed for amazing relationships to form and further bond the community together. Virtual recruitment was something we were all really scared of, but once we figured out the kinks, everything went really smoothly and allowed for many genuine conversations to take place between PNMs and active women.”
When virtual bid day came and the invitations were opened, members were separated by physical distance, but bonded together by the new sisterhood they entered. The determination and patience of each individual throughout the recruitment process demonstrates how adaptable students can be even during a global pandemic.
Story by Hailey Layne