Letter to the Editor: virtual recruitment was necessary

By James Stein Sep 17, 2021

I would like to respond to last week’s article “Disappointment over Panhellenic Decision to Make Sorority Recruitment Virtual”. A fourth year sorority woman myself, I look forward to recruitment every year. I love meeting the potential new members (PNMs), and finding a few “rush crushes” that I hope will be one of my future sisters. This is my final year of recruitment, and it was already emotional for me. I know these new members and I will only have one year of overlap, and our relationships may not be as strong as those I have with others. But I value the short conversations we have, and I love seeing the way their eyes light up when they come running home to the house and see their new family. Recruitment means a lot to me, so when I saw there was an article complaining about the process this year, I was taken aback. 

Last week’s article acknowledges the current pandemic, saying the decision to have a mostly-virtual recruitment “is based on the current rise in covid cases […] Nevertheless, I think there could have been more effort in trying to have the events in-person.” I do understand why the author is arguing for in-person recruitment, and I admire her for writing about it, but I cannot understand why she uses Illinois State University (ISU) as an example of why we should be in person.

This author argues that at ISU “more than 300 pnms will get to meet sorority members and the house they could call home in-person, whereas our 80 pnms will only get to see our faces and speak to us in-person one night and will not be able to see the place that they will live before making their final decision”. There are roughly 18,000 students at ISU, which is just down the street from our campus of 1,600. And according to ISU’s COVID-19 Campus Case Tracker, in the last week alone, there have been 42 new cases. Over the past few days while recruitment was happening, there was a noticeable spike in cases, with 16 new cases reported on Sept. 8. ISU students make up a large part of Mclean County’s population during the school year, and the Mclean County Health Board noted a tremendous spike in cases around the typical college move-in dates. So far this semester, there have been 170 positive cases and only 74 percent of students are vaccinated at ISU. This does not comply with the current ISU health services mandate that students “may not exempt out of the COVID-19 vaccination”, similar to IWU’s own vaccination requirement. As of September 10, there were only 24 active cases on IWU’s campus. But proportionally speaking, 24 of our students is higher than 170 of ISU students – or, in proportional terms, 1.5 percent of Titans in comparison to not even a full percent of Redbirds. 

And even if ISU was doing their recruitment virtually, or if their vaccination rates were 100 percent and they had absolutely no cases on their campus, it still would not be reason enough to change to an in-person recruitment. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has stated how you can still spread the virus to unvaccinated people, even if you yourself are vaccinated. The Delta variant is more than twice as contagious as the original coronavirus, and the CDC warns that “people infected with the Delta variant, including fully vaccinated people, can transmit the virus to others.” The CDC continues to say “unvaccinated people remain the greatest concern.” Yes, 91 percent of IWU students are vaccinated, but what about the other nine percent?

While most of my family is vaccinated and less compromised by the Delta variant or other strains of coronavirus, I do have friends and family back home who are too young to get the vaccine and whom I care about deeply. I may be vaccinated, but if I brought any form of the virus home to those children and they were put in a life threatening situation because of me, I would never be able to forgive myself. 

I was initially uneasy when I heard that Saturday’s Preference Night and Sunday’s Bid Day were going to be held in person as opposed to virtual. But, with reassurance of how proper measures would be taken, like ensuring social distancing and other safety precautions, I convinced myself to participate in both. Pref Night is a special night, especially for me; I gave my sorority testimony with love and tears on Friday night behind my mask. I have looked forward to my senior year Pref Night since my own freshman recruitment. I distinctly remember the testimonies given and how special I felt standing in a circle of women who were ready to open their arms to me. I love the ritualistic ceremony which takes place with all sorority women clad in dresses and high heels. Even though there weren’t any tight embraces between PNMs and recruiters at the end of the night this year, I am grateful that I was able to do my senior year Pref Night in person. But I still consider the risks I took this weekend with photo opportunities and eating all together as a sisterhood. Until we can be certain that recruitment poses no threat with the Coronavirus and Delta variant, I strongly believe these sorts of events should remain virtual. 

Related Post