Western Michigan University flagpoles

The flagpoles at the center of Western Michigan University's main campus in Kalamazoo, Michigan. 

As the coronavirus pandemic continues, fraternity houses are a potential hotbed for infections. As WMU's fall semester approaches, decisions on COVID-19 prevention land with chapter leadership for fraternities and sororities. 

How individual chapters choose to regulate and implement plans are up to leadership within each chapter, Assistant Director for Fraternity and Sorority Life Abigail Wallace said.

“We are hopeful that sororities and fraternity members, just like all of our students in RSOs, will follow all university, local, state and federal guidelines regarding safe practices including social distancing,” Wallace said.

Each council will be adjusting a variety of programming accordingly.

At WMU, our sorority and fraternity chapter facilities are all located off campus, similarly to apartment complexes. Because of this, it is encouraged that chapter facilities mimic the guidelines that are put in place regarding residence halls.

This includes, increased cleaning schedules, proper social distancing protocols for common areas and other guidelines. However, since WMU does not own or control off campus facilities, the decisions land with chapter leadership.

Several chapters are implanting a variety of measures that aim to limit interactions with individuals who do not live in the chapter facilities, Wallace said.

When asked if there were any concerns for large gatherings that may occur in the Fall, Wallace said that they are currently working with students to adjust their programming accordingly. 

“One of the major benefits of membership in a fraternity or sorority is the fellowship that comes from the members of your organization,” Wallace said. “ We want our students to be able to continue to deeper their connections with their friends and community, but we also want to make sure they are doing it safely.”

Council leaderships are still looking at a variety of options for social opportunities to exist. 

“Social opportunities don’t necessarily equate to partying, and we are trying to focus in on other ways to maintain their social connections within their community,” Wallace said.

Sindecuse Health Center posted a Tweet on July 2 telling students to change their social behaviors regarding crowds.

“We answer phone calls everyday from people who were in crowds, at gatherings, and then learned later someone they met was COVID-positive,” the post reads. “Wear a #mask, social distance, and wash your hands frequently. There is no 'safe' party that looks like parties you attended in 2019.”

WMU Panhellenic Council posted on their Facebook a revised recruitment format July 21. This was after reviewing recommendations from the National Panhellenic Conferences and campus officials. 

Recruitment will now follow safety measures that include:

  • Any and all in-person events will have social distancing in place.

  • Parties and events will be smaller in capacity to comply with health and safety procedures.

  • Masks will be worn at all in-person events.

  • Anyone participating in any events will be subject to health screening and temperature check.

  • Alternate virtual events for those who cannot be in person or choose not to will be provided.

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