by Carole Jurenko Jones, Alpha Delta (U of Alabama), 2019-2021 NPC Chairman
As the calendar flipped from 2020 to 2021, it struck me how much our lives have changed since last March when social distancing and virtual meetings became our new normal. The COVID-19 pandemic has forced us all to experience a very different way of living and learning, and has challenged us to be flexible and innovative.
As students return to campus this month, the safety of our members, volunteers and campus professionals with whom they interact continues to be a primary concern and focus for the National Panhellenic Conference. I get it, many of us have COVID fatigue and we can’t wait for the vaccine to be widely available, but I encourage the use of NPC’s #StopTheDrops educational resources designed for use by College Panhellenics and individual chapters. We must continue to ensure our members are illustrating care for all in our campus communities.
Given that fraternities and sororities can often set the tone for campus social life, we recognized this fall that a return to “business as usual” was not acceptable and, as Panhellenic women, we are empowered to be leaders in helping to maintain healthy campus communities. By continuing to adopt safe behaviors, NPC members and chapters can help reduce the likelihood of outbreaks and help shape the behaviors of the broader campus community.
As our deferred recruitment campuses prepare to welcome new members, the successes of this fall’s virtual recruitment experience have been shared through educational resources, individual support and panel discussions. Zoom 301, a virtual program with panelists who completed a virtual recruitment in the fall, included a discussion on how to best prepare for virtual recruitment, how to manage the technical pieces of virtual recruitment and how the College Panhellenic can be focused on their work to support chapters individually. Through the hard work and preparation of our chapter and Panhellenic leaders, with support from their advisors, campus professionals and NPC and inter/national organization volunteers and staff, we are confident spring recruitment 2021 will also be successful and life changing. (You can access Zoom 301 and other virtual recruitment resources here.)
Flexibility and innovation continues with NPC’s 2021 College Panhellenic Academy. Scheduled for Jan. 22-23, this year’s Academy has been redesigned to be executed as a virtual event and has a record-breaking nearly 850 participants registered. Collegiate officer breakout sessions will be offered for judicial officers, marketing officers, presidents, recruitment officers and fraternity/sorority advisors. Advocacy Building Block sessions will focus on citizenship and service, health and safety, scholarship and freedom of association, giving participants an opportunity to reflect on NPC’s advocacy efforts and create actionable ways to engage in future advocacy in these areas.
Additionally, we are fortunate to have the following keynote speakers thanks to the financial support of the NPC Foundation: Krystal Clark, who will share her personal story about being a Black woman, her path to joining a Panhellenic sorority and the hurdles that stood in her way; Thea Zunick, who will share not only why self-care is important and necessary, but how Panhellenic leaders can help one another practice self-care and continue the self-care/well-being conversation with fellow students; and Tracy Walder, who will share her personal story about why sorority means so much to her and how sorority helped shape who she is today while focusing on women’s empowerment.
If January is any indication, as always, Panhellenic women are off to a busy start. Best wishes for a productive, successful and meaningful 2021 as we all continue to confront new challenges during this unprecedented time.