Updated: Mar 5
Sororities and fraternities became the name of a blame game on college campuses when students returned for the Fall 2020 Semester. This game began with a difference of opinion over who retained the most responsibility for the safety of college campuses during the COVID-19 pandemic.
A clear winner in this game became more apparent throughout the semester.
When COVID-19 outbreaks struck universities across the nation, administration and other officials pointed a finger at Greek life organizations.
Fraternities at the University of Tennessee were reported by Consumer News and Business Channel to be hosting parties, giving tips on how to avoid the police and how to get COVID-19 tests without reporting it to their school.
A University of New Hampshire fraternity held a party of about 100 attendees without masks, according to the same CNBC report. Greek housing was considered by UNH’s administration as a riskier option compared to residence halls due to the pandemic.
Syracuse University suspended their Sigma Chi chapter altogether due to its involvement in three large parties, according to Central New York.
Both local and national media painted Greek life at universities in shades of reckless behavior.
Was Greek life simply ignoring the pandemic and partying to their hearts' content? Was the entire story being told about these organizations?
At the University of Miami, individuals within Greek organizations decided to take COVID-19 seriously.
Divisions within sororities at UM formed between those who did not want to risk catching the virus, and those who continued to violate rules. Those who chose to wear masks at the university’s fraternities have been bullied according to a report from The Miami Hurricane.
Community service has remained a staple for sororities and fraternities nationwide during the pandemic.
Greek life became a force for good according to the University of Arkansas. National Pan-Hellenic brought insight into stress caused by the pandemic in its mental health forum.
UA’s Delta Sigma Theta chapter led a voter registration drive and Kappa Delta hosted a socially distant ice skating event.
Despite the suspension of Sigma Chi, most of Syracuse University’s Greek organizations hosted virtual recruitment activities in accordance with COVID-19 policies according to The Daily Orange.
There are Greek chapters and organizations that endangered their university communities. However, there are also those that avoided the media’s formed stereotype of reckless jamboree groups.
I encourage local and national media platforms to seek out stories of Greek life adapting to the pandemic and finding ways to improve the lives of their members and their communities. Even within organizations that violate pandemic policies, there were those who fought for change.
Without an honest portrayal in the media, the complete story of sororities and fraternities during the COVID-19 will be lost.
By JACOB BEAVER
Staff photo courtesy of Ben Lausch.