Marist Greek Life’s virtual rush

By Makena Gera, Marist Circle; photo via @zetapsi_marist Instagram

Recruitment for Greek Life looked significantly different this year. Marist College students no longer entered a room with a couple of hundred others who signed up for recruitment. Instead, they signed into a Zoom breakout room to have their first conversations with their future Greek brothers and sisters. Needless to say, the experience was an adjustment. 

“When you walk into the recruitment rooms, you feel the energy and enthusiasm, the positivity, and you read people’s body language,” Audrey More said, president of Marist’s Tri Sigma sorority. “When you’re on our side recruiting new members, you see their body language — whether they’re nervous or excited. But over Zoom, it’s completely different.” 

Having already operated semi-virtually for the past year, this is the first time Greek organizations have had to conduct virtual recruitment. Meeting potential new members over Zoom might initially sound difficult. However, everyone has become so familiar with Zoom over the past year, presidents of Greek organizations say there have actually been various advantages to virtual rush.

Along with the other sororities and fraternities on campus, Marist’s Zeta Psi fraternity has been running on a Zoom-only model for the past two semesters. As a result, conducting rush virtually was an easy task. The biggest challenge with Zoom is how easy it is to get distracted while using the platform. “So the question became, ‘What do we do to keep everybody’s attention?’” Jaime Ronquillo said, president of Zeta Psi. “We’ve made things more interactive. We won’t just be talking; we might be playing a game, or some other simple activity that makes the time much more worth it. The new guys have really enjoyed it as well.” 

Marist’s other two fraternities also operated with a similar style, Theta Delta Chi and Kappa Sigma. For each one, recruitment was more than just chatting over Zoom — it included everything from online poker to video games. However, rush didn’t start out entirely virtual. All three fraternities hosted a “Meet the Greeks” event in person on March 15. 

Theta Delta Chi originally planned to host all of their rush events in person, including cornhole, ping pong, a basketball game viewing, and a Mario Kart tournament. Unfortunately, due to the spike in COVID cases on campus and subsequent precautionary pause starting on March 17, all Greek organizations had to adapt to a virtual model midway through rush. Theta Delta Chi’s recruitment chair, James Kagel, said that although they had to adapt quickly, the recruitment experience hasn’t changed.

Even with virtual events, Greek life has experienced a high level of interest — likely because it offers the camaraderie and community atmosphere that the pandemic has taken away. “Greek life offers them something they haven’t yet gotten to experience in college,” Jack Williamson said, president of Kappa Sigma. “While Zoom events aren’t as fun as being in-person, everyone was really enthusiastic and showed interest in every single one.”