With several changes made to combat the spread of COVID-19, pledging season has been pushed back near the end of in-person instruction and shortened to two weeks.
Robin McPherson, senior coordinator for fraternities and sororities, said the many changes being made this year is to keep students safe on campus.
“It’s not an easy process to get through rushing and pledging during a normal year, and when you add COVID-19 to the mix, there is a lot of stress and emotions,” McPherson said.
In her first year, McPherson has found the new position challenging but a perfect fit given her experience.
“I came from a background of 29 years of public education,” McPherson said. “I feel like it gives me a lot of good skills and the ability to handle a position like this, so it’s a great fit.”
First invitational rushes begin Monday and bids will be distributed electronically for the first time Oct. 23 to limit direct contact. Pledging will ensue the following day until Nov. 8.
However, student life has granted an additional two days in case some fraternities or sororities can’t complete their pledging process in time.
“Our students are doing a remarkable job of wearing masks and washing hands,” Dr. Tamara Long, vice president for student life, said. “Seeing that was so encouraging that we felt we could go ahead with rushing and pledging.”
Fraternities and sororities will still be allowed to accept as many new members as they have in years past, but Long said it’s important for students to branch out.
“We want to see growth across all of them,” Long said. “Adding a cap is intentional to allow other groups to grow, and quite honestly, when you start having these really large sororities and fraternities, it’s challenging.”
The university is also encouraging pledging events to be outdoors as much as possible. Long believes it’s helpful to keep students as safe as possible.
“Doing things outside allows you to be pretty distanced,” Long said. “We have a large campus that can be approved for activities to take place safely.”