Welcoming new members in a digital age

By Maria Marzullo, Valpo Torch (Valparaiso University); photo via @valpofsl Instagram

Valpo Fraternity and Sorority Life welcomed 185 new members this past recruitment season despite the COVID-19 pandemic. What is usually an exciting time filled with many events took on a slightly different form over zoom. 

Generally, both sororities and fraternities host events in an attempt to get to know potential new members (PNMs). Generally, these events involve visiting the fraternity or sorority house and conversing with existing members.

“As far as the actual formal recruitment events went, we didn’t change much,” said Pi Kappa Alpha (Pike) Vice President of Membership Development Tyler Castongia. “We just moved all of our events online entirely and we tried to keep it as close formatting as possible.”

Castongia, who is a sophomore business management major, went through in-person recruitment last year. However, this year, he had the opportunity to help organize a virtual recruitment. 

“I think the way you build friendships with potential new members was a lot harder… because intimate relationships is what you’re looking for as far as friendships go. I think that you just can’t build that with the online experience,” Castongia said. 

Castongia praised the efforts of both his brothers and new members who were willing to be flexible during this unprecedented time.

“I think our upperclassmen did a really good job of just getting those guys involved… I think our new members  are just happy to be here, too,” Castongia said. “Being a new member and eventually getting initiated I think that if your values align with the fraternity then you’ll  make it work either way and that’s what the new members are doing and they’re doing a killer job at it.”

Pike recruited 11 new members this semester and Kappa Delta recruited 22 new members. 

Though this was a success for the organizations, there were still pros and cons to the online format.

While Castongia likes in person events more, he believes that the online format is able to reach more people, some of whom may not have considered joining the fraternity before. 

“Giving potential new members a zoom link is so much easier than trying to say ‘okay, well we’re going to pick you up at like five o’clock and we’re going to go bowling.’ I think that is logistically a lot harder and for PNMs, they’re probably not as interested if they have something going on around that same time,” Castongia said.