The time I heard the term “coronavirus,” I was sitting in my high school psychology class as my teacher interrupted his lecture to tell us about the “deadly” virus going on overseas. Like my other classmates, I had my mind fixed on prom and graduation, not the issues happening on the other side of the world. It’s not like it would reach the US anytime soon, is what I thought. Fast forward to two weeks later till the moment I received the call declaring that in-person schooling is now canceled. Then, two weeks later, quarantine began and lasted for months on end. It was a terrible way to end high school, but finally, as I started classes at Chapel Hill in my newly furnished dorm, I was immediately told there was a two-week deadline for moving out. I thought to myself, what organization or institution was ignoring the rules that all other UNC students were living by. I assumed that parties continued happening, because daily, hundreds of students were being infected by Covid-19 and sent home, leading me to believe Greek life is a large part of why Corona is still alive, given they serve a big factor in college gatherings. I predicted next to no precautions were being taken at these functions and hoped to learn how they are dealing with the unfortunate circumstances.
By studying other perceptions on the correlation between Greek life and Covid-19, there was a surprisingly mixed set of views from those studying this component of corona: One side argued they should be shut down during the pandemic while the other said it would ruin the future of the organizations and their traditions. I wanted to know the accuracy concerning how fraternities and sororities are dealing with the pandemic, so I scheduled a meeting at the Phi Delta Theta fraternity house to get a better sense of how they are managing their functions during the pandemic.
The first thing I observed as I pulled into the Phi Delt parking lot were the windows completely covered with blackout shades and trash bags. Next, I noticed two groups of people: some playing basketball while the others were skateboarding in the parking lot. There were about twelve people outside and not a single mask was in sight, nor any sense of social distancing. Walking through the parking lot, it was almost as if the other students judged me for wearing a mask. I assumed it was because I was an unfamiliar face on their own property, but when they were informed why I was there, they did not seem particularly pleased about my investigation. Needles to say, I was already at unease. I went inside the house and talked to four of the fraternity members watching football on the bottom floor—still, no one wearing a mask. We went upstairs to meet some other Phi Delta Theta members, and unfortunately, not a single brother was wearing a mask, social distancing, or showing any concern for the global pandemic. I lingered in the house for about an hour, observing members coming in and out, returning with guests as if Covid-19 never existed. My first observation proved that Greek life functions were not taking the necessary precautions, and helped me compile some pertinent questions for my interview the following day
After watching their living conditions for a few hours, I interviewed the same student who initially invited me to watch the game. Unfortunately, his plans changed that day and I talked about the topic with a junior Phi Delt student instead in the house’s kitchen. I recorded the conversation on my phone and began by telling him about my observations the previous day to eliminate any bias he could convey about their management concerning the pandemic. I began the interview by asking, “How strict are your rules when it comes to wearing masks inside and outside of the house?” He responded with, “We try to manage people wearing their masks, especially when older people and reporters are here as well as our housemaid and chef, but because we all live in the same house, it seems pretty pointless to keep them on at all times. In terms of outside, we don’t really wear them when we are on our property, but when we go anywhere else, we always bring them with us.” Next, I asked how Covid-19 has affected the future Phi Delta Theta class and how it is different than the previous years. He said, “Actually yes, some other fraternities here are in the process of building their freshman pledge classes, but because so many of our freshmen went home, we had to move it to the Spring, and I still don’t know if we are even gonna be able to do it then.” Finally, I asked a question that struck a really unexpected response, confirming Phi Delt and Greek life was entirely at fault in terms of dealing with the pandemic. I asked if they had continued promoting big parties and social events to which he responds, “Where is this recording going again? Nevermind, we’re done here?” He subsequently stood up and walked out the back door. The answer spoke for itself and I concluded that greeklife is not taking the necessary safeguards to end this dilemma. As I left the corona saturated house, a herd of fifteen girls made their way upstairs, none of whom showing any concern for the pandemic and thousands of deaths happening daily around the world.
My original question was to observe the methods in which fraternities and sororities were dealing with our current pandemic, and I concluded that there were none. While other students are responsibly living at home, this organization continues having gatherings, directing the question of how the university or government will deal with this irresponsible behavior.
Stoddard, S. (2020, Sep 13). PRO: Why greek life and COVID-19 can coexist. University Wire Retrieved from http://libproxy.lib.unc.edu/login?url=https://www-proquest-com.libproxy.lib.unc.edu/docview/2442039840?accountid=14244
MICHELLE, P. S. (2020, Sep 25). ASWSU, greek life talk COVID-19 responses. University Wire Retrieved from http://libproxy.lib.unc.edu/login?url=https://www-proquest-com.libproxy.lib.unc.edu/docview/2445923061?accountid=14244