Adapting to changes at Oregon

By Simon Gutierrez, Fox 12/KPTV; photo via Instagram @uo_ifc

EUGENE, OR (KPTV) – As Oregon colleges and universities continue to adapt to guard against the spread of COVID-19, fraternities and sororities on campus have had to pivot as well.

As is required in the University of Oregon’s dorms, students living in chapter houses are asked to wear masks in common areas and practice physical distancing.

“Most of our chapters are open for live-ins, and that can range from 30-50 folks in a chapter house. And a lot of them have a lot of set policies to make sure they can mitigate the spread of COVID,” said Interfraternity Council President Youri Benadjaoud, who is a University of Oregon senior.

After reports in August and September from around the country of outbreaks of COVID-19 tied to large fraternity parties, the University of Oregon’s Dean of Students sent out a letter to members of fraternities and sororities before the start of fall term, with words of warning and advice.

“We wanted to get up front and set some expectations clearly, and some of those are a moratorium on social events. All of their chapter meetings they usually hold in person are held virtually,” said Kris Winter, UO Dean of Students.

Winter’s letter states that large gatherings are a risk to public health, and that students participating in them could face student conduct action.

Benadjaoud said Greek life leadership is strongly encouraging distancing and mask wearing by its members, and that fraternity and sorority members are trying to make the best of an unusual fall term.

“Overall, I anticipate the entire year being similar to what we have now,” said Benadjaoud. “I think that’s ok. We’re just trying to look at the positive aspects and try to keep pushing and looking at what we can do to keep things as positive and normal as possible.”

According to the university, there have been 31 new cases of COVID-19 reported in on-campus students in the last 14 days.

There have been more than 500 cases tied to the university so far, most of them in students living off campus.