Fresno State’s Greek Life adjusts to virtual rush amid pandemic

Although the pandemic has forced clubs and organization shift their recruiting process, Fresno State fraternities and sororities embrace the transition. (Courtesy The Collegian Archive)

With the closure of schools across the state, many activities and clubs have been moved online, one of them being fraternity and sorority rush for the fall semester. 

Rushing is a form of recruitment that fraternity and sorority houses use to reach out to potential recruits who wish to become more acquainted with Greek life. 

Traditionally, interested students participate in special events and dinners, and dress up for theme days during rush week. But due to the pandemic, in-person events for fall rush have been cancelled. 

With four governing councils dedicated to Greek life on campus, Fresno State has a total of 38 fraternities and sororities for students to rush. 

Allison Villines is president of the Panhellenic Association (PHA), one of the four governing councils. She is also a member of the Kappa Alpha Theta sorority. 

Villines said that PHA is an organization that works to create inclusion between each sorority chapter, therefore creating friendship and inclusiveness between all the sisters.

“Sisterhood is friendship,” Villenes said. “Panhellenic is really cool because it’s not just sisterhood necessarily by your individual letter, or chapter, [it’s] sisterhood throughout all the homes.”

The PHA was one of the first councils to complete virtual rush for the fall semester. 

Online recruitment took place from Aug. 27 through Aug. 30, and for four days recruits met via Zoom to get to know each other and learn more about each sorority chapter in the PHA. 

Women were split up into breakout rooms and individual chapter rooms over the course of these days to make up for the lack of in-person gatherings and special events normally held during the week.

Although there have been many difficulties transitioning from in-person to virtual events, Villines says she’s not worried about how the pandemic will affect the future of the PHA. 

Villines is highly encouraged that the council has turned a somewhat negative situation into an enriching experience for both members and new recruits.

“Yes, it [recruitment] will look different,” Villines said. “But it doesn’t mean that different is bad, it’s just different.” 

Within the upcoming weeks the United Sorority and Fraternity Council (USFC) and the Interfraternity Council (IFC) will be holding their virtual rush over Zoom as well.

President of the USFC, Cindy Cortez of Alpha Pi Sigma, said that their organization’s recruitment will be held over a span of three weeks ending on Sept. 16. Their first meeting was held on Sept. 1 to help inform recruits about what the USFC is and what its goals as a governing council are at Fresno State.

Leading up to the USFC’s main rush week event, known as the Grand Tour, recruits will be able to explore chapters and learn more about each house before choosing which ones they would like to join. 

Although everything will be virtual this semester, rush will essentially look the same as the in-person recruitment process, Cortez said. The main difference between this year and last year’s recruitment is the size of new recruits. 

“For actual rush we get people that are literally just passing by,” Cortez said. “It is going to hurt us a little bit because a lot of people [in USFC] are graduating and we want to get new people.” 

This struggle is felt by many of Fresno State’s fraternities and sororities and while each governing council has faced various challenges leading up to rush week, president of the IFC Anthony Camacho of Alpha Gamma Rho remains positive.

Camacho said that although the pandemic has caused this event to look different, they’re going to work with what they have and do what they can to make this event, as well as the rest of the year, the best it can be given restrictions.

A normal rush week for the IFC includes creative events such as house tours, BBQs, sport events and much more for recruits to get to know one another, but due to COVID-19 these experiences won’t be held in-person.

Camacho said that rush week will look similar to in-person recruitment, but the safety of members and recruits is a top priority. That is why they are working adamantly to accommodate everyone participating in this event. 

“Coronavirus has affected us in many ways and at the end of the day we care about safety and that’s what we want for our members,” Camacho said. 

Camacho said that because they won’t be holding a traditional celebration for new members, recruitment chairs will have to think of creative ways to welcome these recruits. 

The IFC has also given each fraternity chapter the opportunity to brainstorm their own ideas on how they want to get others involved and want to welcome each other at the conclusion of rush week which runs from Sept. 15 to Sept. 20. 

Executive Vice President of the Associated Students, Inc. (ASI) Hisham Qutob encouraged students to get involved because there’s simply “no harm in trying.”

Qutob admitted to being hesitant about rushing when first joining Alpha Sigma Phi, but he said that his fraternity has created life-changing experiences that have introduced him to great people at Fresno State. 

“Honestly I didn’t even think about rushing at all,” Qutob said. 

Qutob asked himself, “What could I possibly gain [in this experience] but also, what can I give back? By doing this I found out that I’ve met a great group of guys that are now my lifelong friends.”

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