Multicultural fraternities working through recruitment

By Kim Stager, University of Idaho Argonaut

Multicultural Greek Council (MGC) chapter recruitment opened Aug. 31 at the University of Idaho, after the Interfraternity Council (IFC) and Panhellenic Council (PHC) closed recruitment Aug. 17. 

There are two fraternities and four sororities governed by the MGC. The chapters have 80 total members when combined, but each individual chapter varies from as few as seven members to as many as 20 members. 

MGC engages with potential members over the summer by providing information available about costs, expectations of membership and other details so potential members can consider their choices. MGC members along with council and chapter officers collaborated with the Greek Life Office this summer to participate in webinars and presentations about fraternity and sorority life.  

These MGC organizations were founded to create a safe space for students of various races, ethnicities and cultures. The traditions of MGC chapters also differ from those of IFC and PHC chapters.

MGC recruitment is held after students move to campus because potential MGC members are not motivated by a live-in experience, unlike IFC and PHC chapters, which recruit potential members before classes begin.  

MGC has a showcase week where all six organizations engage as a community and students can meet each chapters on an equal playing field. MGC chapters attend Palousafest and host several events, including the Meet the Greeks tabling event, community service events and TEDx-style presentations about each MGC organization. 

Each MGC chapter picks one week to host recruitment events. Multiple chapters can pick the same week and not necessarily be in competition for members. 

Some of the national organizations for MGC have standard times for the intake process, which is when members are taught about the founding of the chapter, its values and more, but the process of becoming a new member is unique for each individual student.

MGC President Ismael Mendoza plans recruitment. He organizes the events and has each sorority and fraternity rotate which week they use for recruitment. Mendoza enjoys making connections with the members of each organization.  

“(Being president) made it a lot more important to (me) to represent (MGC),” Mendoza said. “Now I can really see and help out the MGC community as much as I can.”  

COVID-19 made a major impact on how recruitment ran this year, however. 

“One of the primary ways that (COVID-19) challenged (recruitment) is that in addition to everything being kind of unprecedented, (in a) ‘we’re trying to land our plane while we’re building the runway and we’re in the air’ type of idea, it has really caused a deeper analysis of how COVID-19 (is) impacting the various subpopulations of the campus communities,” Director of Fraternity and Sorority Life Nick O’Neal said. “We may not fully understand what we are dealing with and how COVID-19 could impact the student population, so (we must be) aware of our responsibility to be good stewards of the resources and the opportunities that we have to represent our membership and to do the right thing as citizens of the community.” 

There might be some in-person events, all adhering to COVID-19 guidelines, but virtual events will be offered as well. Some MGC organizations may choose to do recruitment and intake in Spring 2021 instead.   

COVID-19 has made recruitment challenging because MGC chapters like to meet and interact with potential members in person. 

“When you do everything through Zoom or online, you sometimes don’t engage as if you were doing everything in-person,” Chapter President of Sigma Lambda Beta International Fraternity, Inc. (SLB) Gibraham Gomez said. “You are not getting the full experience. You are coming up to (chapter presidents) and talking and having a conversation and getting to know each other. You don’t take (the interaction) as seriously. When you’re doing (interactions) through Zoom, everyone is like ‘I’m just going to turn off my camera.’ In person, you get to see all their facial reactions and little things you can’t really notice through a camera.” 

MGC chapters are regularly active in philanthropy, often partnering with local organizations or campus offices. Some MGC chapters partner with national organizations like St Jude’s or Feeding America. The chapters host everything from silent auctions and bake sales to gofundme campaigns and events like Paint the Palouse. Health and safety concerns with COVID-19 will cause some of these activities to change.   

“The goal is that when we combine our resources and combine our efforts, (MGC chapters) can make a pretty big impact in the world and in those philanthropic organizations,”  O’Neal said.