The following is a guest post from Annabelle Paquin, the University of Minnesota Duluth, class of 2021.
When we got the
news that recruitment was going to be entirely online, a brief moment of panic
Annabelle at the 2020 College Panhellenic Academy.
our College Panhellenic. “How are we going to do this?” was the question running through all of our minds. Most of us had just started using Zoom a few weeks ago, and the idea of facilitating an entire Zoom recruitment was not one we felt prepared for. We had no idea what we were going to do, but we knew we had to act fast. We quickly held meetings with our College Panhellenic officers, chapter recruitment chairs, chapter presidents and recruitment counselors, to tell them what was happening. We were met with shock, as well as enthusiasm that we were going to figure this out, make it work and make the best of the situation.
Myself, the College Panhellenic recruitment assistant and our advisor began scouring through NPC emails, looking for tips and tricks on how we could make this work. We attended online meetings with other campuses across the nation, tirelessly testing out breakout rooms, and trying to figure out how we could utilize Zoom to try to recreate recruitment in the most realistic way possible. We even held an optional Zoom meeting where we invited all of our fraternity and sorority life members so we could practice using breakout rooms; which helped us in effectively teaching chapters various tips and tricks to make this work.
Meanwhile, on the chapter end of things, everything related to recruitment took a turn. Chapter recruitment chairs and members alike had to quickly learn how to adapt and be extremely flexible. Recruitment training, originally energetic weekends spent learning chants and freshening up on your chapters values, philanthropy and finances quickly turned into testing out Zoom during chapter meetings, discussing how to move from break out room to break out room and learning how to set up Zoom calls. Despite all of this, all of our chapters maintained a positive attitude and spent a lot of time making sure they were experts in Zoom.
Our College Panhellenic recruitment team and chapter recruitment teams were not the only ones who made sure recruitment went off without a hitch. Our recruitment counselors were invaluable to us during this experience. Despite the changes to the job description, not a single recruitment counselor stepped down from their position. Our training still involved learning about being a supportive and empathetic resource to potential new members (PNMs) but also included a lot of technical Zoom skills, ensuring that our recruitment counselors were prepared to help chapters and PNMs troubleshoot, and make sure that PNMs knew where they needed to be when they needed to be there. All recruitment counselor training events were held virtually as well.
Despite all of the last minute changes that needed to be made, and the less than ideal circumstances, everyone involved maintained an extremely positive attitude, and I couldn’t be more proud of our campus’s Panhellenic community for being so supportive during this time.
For campuses who are recruiting in the spring, the best advice I can give, from both the chapter standpoint and the Panhellenic standpoint is to PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE. Reach out to other campuses and see what they did. Practice with your chapter, learn the breakout rooms, learn how Zoom works. Stay positive, stay organized and do as much as you can ahead of time. Don’t be discouraged by low numbers, because at the end of the day, these are difficult times for everyone. Smaller numbers also allowed for PNMs to have longer and more in-depth conversations with chapter members, which we received very positive feedback about.
Encourage your Panhellenic sisters to stay positive, and remember, everything is going to be okay. Use your community as a support system. I know for myself, I was so proud of how our entire fraternity and sorority life community stepped up to help us through this challenge. I couldn’t have done this alone, and am incredibly grateful for the help from our community, as well as my advisor, recruitment assistant, recruitment counselors, our Panhellenic president and chapter recruitment chairs.