According to the IUPUI Covid Dashboard, the percentage of positive Covid-19 cases of IUPUI students increased from 4.94% in August to 30.46% in November, making the year look very different for members of IUPUI’s Zeta Tau Alpha.
“This year recruitment was on zoom over two days from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. The girls singing up were assigned a room to log onto for the different chapters they wanted to visit. Everyone stayed in the comfort and safety of their homes,” Zeta Tau Alpha member, Alexia Pero, said.
This experience was very different from what ZTA members in the past have seen.
“Normally our recruitment is the first weekend of September and there are typically over 200 girls that sign up,” Pero said. “All of the sororities have a room in the campus center that they decorate. The girls who signed up for recruitment are split into groups and rotate between the different rooms in order to get a feel for each sorority. Then they select which they would like to be in.”
With recruitment being online this year, the sorority saw a decrease in IUPUI females who wanted to participate.
“Once it was announced that the year would be virtual over zoom, sign up numbers decreased a lot,” Zeta Tau Alpha’s president Ashley Elkin said. “This was probably one of the smallest recruitments IUPUI Panhellenic has had over the last five years.”
However, Zeta Tau Alpha found a positive within all of the negatives seen this year.
“We have had the best retention of the women we recruited this year than in previous years. We have had 20+ women stay dedicated to the chapter since joining virtually in September and October, which is awesome. Normally in the past we have not had as good of retention,” Elkin said.
Zeta Tau Alpha is typically known for their exciting high energy events and fundraisers.
“Normally we have Big Man On Campus, which is a male talent show where the fraternities learn dance routines and compete against each other to raise money for Breast Cancer Education and Awareness,” Pero said. “We also usually have an event called Tackle the Cure, which is a flag football tournament that also raises money for breast cancer education and awareness. At these events we also have breast cancer survivors that talk about their journeys.”
Unfortunately, due to the 2020 circumstances, the girls had to brainstorm different events to hold in place of their old traditions.
“We did have to cancel all of our scheduled in-person events this semester, but one of my favorite events we held was a virtual 5k marathon,” Pero said. “Everyone downloaded a Nike running app and ran on their own time. The app virtually tracked their progress, which was pretty cool. We ended up raising $2,000 in one day for Breast Cancer Education and Awareness. We also posted bingo cards that had different dollar amounts on the board onto social media as a fundraiser, and when people donated we marked off the specific dollar amount and tried to get bingos.”
Many IUPUI students join sororities and fraternities in order to make new friends and experience new things, but with everything being held virtually, the girls are left missing the socialization and each other.
“I commute from home, so I’m already on campus a lot less now because most classes have moved to either completely virtual or hybrid. I haven’t been seeing as many people, and I really miss the face-to-face aspect,” Pero said. “I don't live in Indianapolis, and since ZTA isn’t doing any events on campus, I’ve been missing the environment a lot more too. I miss all of the energy and the people I’ve grown so close with.”
Finding different methods for bonding and chatting has been an important task the sorority leaders have faced this year.
“We have been relying on GroupMe and Zoom for a lot. We have constant conversation in our chapter GroupMe. We also have weekly chapter meetings, sisterhoods and other events through Zoom. My responsibility as president was to oversee all of the women and lead the weekly executive council and chapter meetings,” Elkin said.
Although they have found different apps that have helped them stay in contact, the girls have had to put in extra effort when it comes to keeping in contact.
“At first we did struggle with staying connected since we were very used to face-to-face connection building,” Elkin said. “However, sisters that have been in the chapter really stepped it up by reaching out to the new members through GroupMe, Zoom, FaceTime, and texting. Since this has been our best round of new member retention, I can tell it’s been working.”
The pandemic has caused many people worldwide to experience more mental health issues like depression and anxiety from being forced to stay at home alone for months.
“Our sisterhood chair started a mental health hour where once a week we can hop on to chat about anything on our minds, bothering us, or just listen and give advice to others. It has brought us a lot closer,” Elkin said.
Although things are very different, the sisters have been encouraged to think positive and make the most out of the circumstances.
“We still do have so many ways to communicate and bond with each other, so I’m thankful for that. I don’t know what I would do if I couldn’t talk to them at all,” Pero said. “Everyone has done such a great job with handling the pandemic and there have still been plenty of virtual opportunities to meet new people and stay connected. Talking in the GroupMe really helps.”
The sorority is still under Covid-19 restrictions and are unsure of when the CDC and campus policies will allow them to return to normalcy.
“I loved the big social gatherings like formals, philanthropy events, and in person chapters with my sisters. It was so much fun to all be together. I hope that those can return sometime soon in a safe way,” Elkin said.