As schools sprung into action in an effort to respond to COVID-19 this spring, campuses began to close in almost a ripple effect. With one email or memo from the school, chapters were left without their houses, gathering places and weekly meetings, things that each member had grown accustomed to since Bid Day. As classes moved online indefinitely, Chapter Presidents moved into action. While their roles in supporting chapter members haven’t changed, the way they execute their responsibilities have changed significantly.
Phi Kappa Chapter (Muhlenberg College) President Grace Wright stated that while her “role as Chapter President still centers around supporting Phi Kappa women,” moving to virtual meetings and finding ways to promote sisterhood remotely has been challenging. Adriana Castro, Theta Gamma Chapter (Florida International University) President, feels as though this transition has been a big test of her faith and her people skills, “I am used to having a hands-on approach to dealing with conflict within the chapter or working on events and programming,” but the abrupt switch to online learning has left her searching for new ways to unite her chapter.
Xi Alpha Chapter (University of Colorado, Boulder) President Rosemary Nussbaum explained that as sisters fully realize the loss of the physical support of sisterhood, most of their frustrations are directed at Presidents. Keeping sisters engaged without face-to-face contact, while challenging, has necessitated creativity from Chapter Presidents and Executive Committees. Currently, one of their biggest concerns: the experience of both seniors and Phis. “I am the most upset for our seniors. They will not have a chance to gain closure and say proper farewells to campus and our chapter,” said Alpha Nu Chapter (University of Florida) President Brittani Nelson. “Phis and freshmen are losing a lot of ‘firsts’ while seniors are losing their ‘lasts’ and we are all losing time and experiences as a sisterhood,” explained Alpha Beta Chapter (University of Arkansas) President Summer Smith.
While each Chapter President has her own strategy for maintaining order during this time, their main similarity has been their optimism and ideas to keep their sisters, especially Phis and seniors, engaged:
- Alpha Beta (University of Arkansas) has scheduled virtual baking competitions and “TEDTalks” about mental health and activities that can be done during this time.
- Alpha Psi (Southeastern Louisiana University) has a weekly “Pink Powwow.” Each week is themed and there is a single subject to focus on like sister shout outs. The Executive Committee also sends out mental health tips and group games to members to keep them engaged.
- Phi Eta (York College of Pennsylvania) has virtual movie nights and trivia nights through Zoom and Kahoot which have been a big hit.
- Xi Alpha (University of Colorado Boulder) is recognizing its members via Senior Spotlight and Sister of the Week Instagram stories and will be holding virtual bonding sessions.
COVID-19 has created unprecedented amounts of uncertainty and has truncated the Phi Mu experience for collegians. But where this pandemic has created challenges in the lives of our members, Chapter Presidents have risen to the occasion to advocate for members’ mental health and ability to gain the most from their time in Phi Mu.