Amid the stress of another semester online and the balance of mental health and getting work done, Greek leaders at WSU were pushing for new goals.
As this semester was the first one in leadership for these students in the Multicultural Greek Council, Panhellenic Council and Interfraternal Council, there was a learning curve.
However, these students accomplished great strides in their positions. Through continued social probation and COVID-19 Organization Response Expectations, the community at large was kept safe and pushed to be responsible — even as many students began to get their vaccines and the fear of COVID-19 began to subside.
After all of this hard work, weekly meetings and the pressure of the entire community on their shoulders, these leaders deserve a break.
Unfortunately, I was unable to meet with MGC leadership, but IFC and Panhellenic leaders shared some of their biggest goals and stressors this semester. They also shared how they are taking time to rest during their vacation.
“I think the thing that requires the most effort and time and that was kind of a stressor [this semester], was definitely just keeping our community safe throughout the COVID pandemic,” said Cass Riggan, IFC director of public relations.
It is never realistic to expect everyone in such a vast community to be following CORE guidelines at all times, so this is a constant point of stress that Greek leaders must revisit week in and week out.
“[COVID] was the topic of every single time we would meet on Monday,” Riggan said. “’How can we respond to people breaking the rules?’, ‘How can we prevent this in the future?’, ‘What else can we do?’. That was the thing that we spent so much time and energy on.”
Even with the possibility of a return to normal this fall, no Greek leaders were letting the community’s safety slip. While so many were beginning to feel the dread of the unknown around COVID-19 wane, student leaders were still pushing for CORE guidelines to be followed to a “T.”
“To be honest, I am really looking forward to the fall, because that will probably be something we will laugh about,” Riggan said. “That was such a big stressor.”
On top of leading the Greek community in safety, these leaders also act as a resource for individual chapter leaders.
“I think [my big goal] was definitely just making sure I was always there for all of the presidents,” said Panhellenic President Samantha Blocher.
For many chapter presidents, leading is tough with only so much on-campus and in-Pullman experience.
“It was a really hard time trying to keep membership things running smoothly,” Blocher said. “I was just always worried about making sure that things were getting communicated well to them and … that I was always a text or call away.”
Being a consistent ear for questions and concerns while trying to balance one’s own school and personal life can also add to stress.
“It definitely was a little challenging especially in situations of feeling like I was always on the clock,” Blocher said. “I would get detached from conversations and people I was around in real life to hone in on Zoom or texts or calls with people.”
When 24 people in Panhellenic and individual chapters all rely upon your advice or clarification, setting boundaries with technology can be extremely tough.
“Not setting those boundaries of work and personal life really did take a toll on me for a while,” Blocher said. “And then I just came to the conclusion that, you know what, I have my time that’s my ‘me time’ and if it’s not an emergency, I can put my phone on Do Not Disturb.”
Setting these boundaries and recognizing personal needs is a huge part of leading such a dynamic community. But taking some time off from having that consistent stress is also a necessity.
Megan Harre, associate director of the Center for Fraternity and Sorority Life, said she is packing her summer with trips.
This semester’s biggest challenge — and greatest convenience — for her was the online environment.
“I’m a big relationship gal, and it was hard to build relationships when we’re not in person,” Harre said. “We tried really hard through Zoom, and some of the Panhellenic officers were in town for the semester, so we would meet for in-person meetings if we could.”
This has been the most common complaint among Cougs of all ages during COVID-19, but the key to sanity in an online world is finding new things to appreciate.
“I kind of liked working from home because I was able to go for steps during the day,” Harre said. “I was able to work out this spin class … and I’m never able to work that into my schedule.”
So many administrators and students were prioritizing their needs during this time, but even so, stress and anxiety often come hand-in-hand with school and work.
Now, these leaders deserve a break.
After a long semester in Pullman, Blocher is taking time to work toward her future in the fashion industry.
“I just moved to Nebraska for an internship over the summer at Buckle headquarters, and then I have a second internship, too,” Blocher said.
Some of our Greek leaders are also prioritizing the family they have not seen since before the beginning of quarantine.
“I just got back from visiting my grandma, and that was really fun,” Harre said. “That was really relaxing to have family and chuckles … and I flew out of town, so it felt like I was away.”
Others like Riggan are taking the opportunity to spend time outside enjoying the fun Washington has to offer.
“I really enjoy rock climbing, so I’ve been doing a lot of [that],” Riggan said. “I’ve been hanging out with friends, you know, the usual. Going on hikes and enjoying the spring weather before it gets too hot.”
After three semesters spent inside without much of an opportunity to enjoy Washington spring, this is a perfect way to rest and recoup.
As is the case for many student leaders, however, the hard work is never done.
“The entire IFC has been like, ‘Okay guys, this has been a tough semester. Let’s take a couple weeks break, and then we can get back on for formal recruitment and advertising that,’” Riggan said.
However, rest is incredibly important — particularly for our student leaders. And they understand that prioritizing this in their lives is equally vital.
“If you keep doing big things time after time, you’ll just get burnt out, and I think we all felt some of that this semester,” Riggan said. “I think just relaxing and getting time to rest really puts things in perspective of what’s really important.”