by Carole Jurenko Jones, Alpha Delta (U of Alabama), 2019-2021 NPC Chairman
As colleges/universities unveiled a myriad of re-opening plans for the fall academic term, students were caught between a desire to return to campus or to continue remote learning amid coronavirus fears. These re-opening plans ranged from in-person learning, remote classes and a hybrid model. But, as students began to return to campus, COVID-19 hotspots began to emerge resulting is some institutions moving to fully virtual classes.
The National Panhellenic Conference (NPC) is committed to assisting our College Panhellenic women to be leaders in helping to reduce the likelihood of COVID-19 outbreaks and help shape the behaviors of the broader campus community. As leaders on campus, we are encouraging sorority women to educate themselves by reviewing the COVID-19 information provided in NPC’s #StopTheDrops health promotion campaign. Information can be found at npcwomen.org/stopthedrops and includes fast facts, resources on virus transmission, the #StopTheDrops video and other resources. (See next section below.) It’s also important to review current college/university policies and guidelines from state and local agencies in order to be knowledgeable about local restrictions and guidance. What are the requirements for wearing masks, distancing, in-person gatherings, visitors, traveling and returning to campus?
Collaboration with other student leaders is another important element in leading the way in modeling safe behavior. How are other student leaders talking about the pandemic within their organizations? Being proactive and working together to #StopTheDrops will help stop the transmission of COVID-19 on your campus.
NPC was also proactive when it shifted its procedural guidance for campuses to transition to a fully virtual recruitment experience. As health concerns continued to rise, we then extended this guidance to all fall and spring recruitment campuses. Panhellenic recruitment hosted through the remainder of the 2020-21 academic year should be hosted as a fully virtual experience (recruitment events through electronic bid distribution.)
Most recently, the 26 member organizations that comprise NPC agreed to direct all collegiate chapters to transition all chapter-sponsored Bid Day activities (i.e., gatherings and celebrations following bid distribution) to a fully virtual experience for the next 30 days (through Oct. 9, 2020).
All of this said, it is important that we all–collegians and alumnae–take the lead in modeling safe behavior. The perception that sorority women are responsible for spreading COVID-19 because they are socializing in large groups without masks is prevalent. College Panhellenics and member organizations are successfully planning and implementing safe membership recruitment in a virtual manner, but large in-person Bid Days and off-campus gatherings have affected the well-being of individuals and those which whom they have interacted.
As sorority women, we play an important role in providing opportunities for members to connect and deepen friendships, deepen engagement with the university and engage in lifelong learning. But during this time of uncertainty, great care must be taken to limit and prevent the transmission of COVID-19.
It is my hope that we will all do our part to assist in preventing the spread of this virus so our collegiate members can enjoy the interaction they so deserve and experience what sisterhood is all about in meaningful ways.