Fall recruitment for Greek organizations took place over the week of Sept. 19. A total of 141 sophomores and juniors signed up to take part in the process, and nearly 80 of those students received bids, though numbers are still being finalized.
Due to COVID-19 restrictions in place last spring, most Greek organizations decided to forgo recruitment until this fall in order to hold events in person. However, some Greek organizations, including the Archon Society and Phi Kappa Tau, held virtual recruitment events last spring.
In recent years, students around the nation have called the status of Greek life on college campuses into question. In 2020, in the midst of a wave of Black Lives Matter protests across the country, protestors began the Abolish Greek Life movement. Additionally, as sexual assault on college campuses has become a bigger topic of conversation in recent years, studies have shown that some Greek organizations are complict in perpetuating such abuse.
Greek Council President and member of Zeta Alpha Pi Thea Soukup ’22 noted that the number of students who signed up to participate in recruitment events this fall was lower than usual. She believes the unusual timing of recruitment, coupled with a decrease in the presence of Greek life on campus, may have contributed to the lack of interest.
“We haven’t had all-campus [parties], we don’t do big community service or campus contribution events right now, so a lot of students don’t know what Greek life does on campus, [so] they don’t really have a strong desire to be a part of it,” Soukup said.
However, Soukup did stress the importance of an in-person recruitment process, explaining that generating interest through a virtual format would have made it difficult for active members to connect with new recruits, many of whom were off-campus last semester.
In-person recruitment was not guaranteed this semester. In early September, when Kenyon was experiencing an outbreak of COVID-19 cases on campus, the College implemented guidelines that restricted the number of students allowed to attend in-person social gatherings and extracurricular events. These guidelines would have impacted in-person recruitment events.
In response, President of Zeta Alpha Pi Katrina Tiktinsky ’22 headed an open letter signed by all 11 Greek organizations on campus. The organizations then sent the letter to the COVID-19 Steering Committee, imploring the College to allow them to carry out a standard, in-person recruitment process. The letter outlined a series of suggestions that would alter recruitment events to abide by the then-imposed guidelines. These included requiring students to wear masks at recruitment events and prohibiting organizations from offering refreshments while holding events indoors.
Tiktinsky cited frustrations with the College’s policies limiting the size of in-person gatherings — especially since the College allowed in-person tours and off-campus athletic competitions to continue — as the reason she decided to write the letter.
“While members of Greek orgs were certainly concerned with the health of students on our campus, we felt that the administration had very little faith in our ability to manage that risk,” Tiktinsky said. “It was frustrating to see recruitment be up in the air, but football games going on as scheduled with fans in the stadium.”
However, Tiktinsky noted that while the College’s contradictory guidance played a role in crafting the letter, her concern for the future of Greek life at Kenyon was at the forefront. She explained that in-person recruitment was the most effective way to connect with potential new members, return organizations to their standard sizes and ensure the survival of Greek life at Kenyon.
“I don’t think that anyone outside of Greek life would have the personal experience to know the meaning that Greek life has had for us as students on this campus,” she said.