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Student organizations face mixed outcomes through virtual events

ASU Greek and club leaders see online recruitment events as an avenue for creativity, despite lower turnouts and technology troubles

Photo by Jennifer Dam
| The State Press

“Many ASU club and greek organizations have turned to social media as an alternative format to connect with their peers.” Illustration published Thursday, Sep. 3, 2020.

For years, ASU’s Passport event created a clear path for students to get involved in different clubs and organizations on campus. Rush and recruitment events were easy ways to meet friends and join sororities or fraternities.

This year, however, ASU’s restrictions on in-person gatherings due to COVID-19 forced club fairs, Greek recruitment and rush events to go virtual. 

The University hosted multiple ‘Passport-like’ events online this week, but after technology issues and a general lack of engagement, many club members said they did not receive the exposure they hoped to. 

Alia Carrillo, president of the Association of Latino Professionals for America and a senior studying finance, said her club participated in ASU’s virtual event Engage on Aug. 19 but described it as “lackluster at best.”

Carrillo said technology hiccups prevented board members from accessing a majority of the event, but said the club’s subsequent issue was not knowing how to draw students’ attention in a virtual event.

“During Passport, we were the ones that approached them. Now it’s the responsibility of the students to approach us or know who we are already,” Carrillo said. “If they haven’t heard about us, what is going to make them come to our booth out of 690 clubs that are in Engage?”

Emily Onwiler, the marketing and media chair for the American Medical Women’s Association and a junior studying medical studies, said her club experienced similar technological disruptions but was ultimately able to recruit more than 20 new students due to the Engage event, as well as advertising through their email and social media accounts.

Onwiler said the club’s members are especially hopeful for increased virtual attendance at this year’s club meetings.

“Even if you are sick, or you’re quarantining or you don’t feel safe going through campus, people still want that social connection,” Onwiler said. “It can be very isolating being online all of the time, so I’m hopeful we will have a good turnout simply because people like talking to other people.” 

Kekai’olu Rodriguez, a sophomore computer science major and vice president of the Hawai’i and Pacific Islander Club, said the club aims to create a safe space for students from Hawai’i and the Pacific Islands, as well as promote cultural diversity and awareness.

Calie Cordeiro, a junior communication major and president of the club, said without in-person meetings, the club’s annual luau will not be possible this year.

After experiencing the same online issues as many other clubs during the Engage event, Rodriguez said the club chose to connect with students on an entirely different platform: Instagram Live.

Cordeiro said although the club has recruited around 10 new members this week from all three virtual events, she believes their Instagram Live event gained the most traction in terms of recruitment.

Many fraternities and sororities have also turned to social media as an alternative format for their rush processes according to Samuel Walsh, a junior finance and accountancy double major and head of recruitment for Pi Kappa Phi.

“I’m not that concerned about recruitment numbers because we have an online form that guys can fill out if they are interested in rush,” Walsh said. “We have over 350 guys who have signed up or shown interest virtually.”

Walsh said the chapter has not hosted any virtual or in-person events thus far and that many other fraternities on campus have yet to participate in any online rush events.

Sydney Attis, a junior studying journalism and head of recruitment for Delta Gamma, said many sororities have big plans for their virtual recruitment processes. But she said the number of girls signed up for recruitment fell slightly below previous years. 

“Within the last two years, we’ve had about 1,600 to 1,700 women, I believe, sign up for recruitment, but this year we just hit around 1,400,” Attis said. “We are definitely on the shorter end in terms of how many women are signing up.”

The members of Delta Sigma Pi, a coed business fraternity, plan to retain new member numbers through creative and fun events for virtual recruitment, said the fraternity’s recruitment chair, Carolyn Wu, a junior studying supply chain management.

Wu said the fraternity’s in-person ice cream social on Monday night was ultimately shut down by a Vista Del Sol community director, despite the fraternity members’ adherence to social distancing guidelines and mask requirements. 

Wu said she is hopeful that their virtual plans — a webinar, a trivia night, speed dating, an alumni panel and a coffee chat —  will pull in the new members they need for the upcoming year.

Although coronavirus restrictions undoubtedly produced barriers for Delta Sigma Pi, Wu believes overcoming those barriers has been a great learning experience.

“It has been a really unfortunate event,” Wu said. “But I think it really helps us grow to make new ideas for these unprecedented events that came.”


Reach the reporter at kkwilso5@asu.edu and follow @kaceywilson_ on Twitter. 

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