WSU Greek members talk about changes in Greek life due to COVID-19

Common areas, lounges have been locked down; no guests allowed to enter houses



Conner Zimbelman, sophomore construction management major and Phi Sigma Kappa member, said Greek members have to abide by specific rules while staying in the house.

BRADLEY GAMBLE, Evergreen reporter

Editor’s Note: This story was updated to add and clarify information about the service requirements for members of the Greek community.

Normally, when students return from spring break they expect to return to university life and for new Greek recruits, to be initiated into their house.

This year was different because WSU Greek chapters were ordered to cancel all events and maintain social distancing practices in order to prevent any illnesses, according to the WSU COVID-19 website “Greek chapters promote social distancing.” 

“After spring break I was supposed to get initiated and we were going to have spirit week right after, so it’s very disappointing,” said Amy Hayashi, junior philosophy major and Alpha Delta Pi recruit. “I was so new to Greek life, I was really excited and I just got my big and my twin.”

While members are being encouraged to go home, Greek houses are remaining open for them to stay at. Conner Zimbelman, sophomore construction management major and Phi Sigma Kappa member, said there are rules for those who stay.

Zimbelman said Greek members have been advised to not let any guests in, which includes members who do not live in the house. Members are encouraged to not socialize outside of their rooms. 

Zimbelman said tables and chairs have been moved into side rooms while common areas and lounges have been locked down to prevent anywhere the virus could spread easily.

He said all members living in the house must wear gloves when preparing food and then go straight back to their rooms.

Zimbelman said he thought the shutdown was an overreaction initially, but since some people were not abiding by the rules of social distancing, he feels it is more justified.

The Panhellenic Council and Interfraternity Council have canceled Greek events such as formals, date dashes, philanthropies and any events with alcohol. Members still have to pay dues and it is unknown if they will be refunded for canceled events.

Hayashi said despite government orders to maintain social distancing, members are still required to do community service hours. However, the hours have been lowered to two hours total.

Farrin Johnson, Panhellenic vice president of public relations, wrote in an email that the deadline to complete those hours was extended to Sept. 15.

Johnson wrote that while the community values service, it is focused on keeping members safe

Members are trying to find how to do events without coming into contact with anyone, she said. 

Despite the fears of the virus, Zimbelman said Greek members are confident that life in fraternities and sororities will continue as normal when they return for fall semester.

“Greek life has a good way of getting back into things, so I think we’ll be able to recover really quick,” Zimbelman said.

According to “Greek chapters promote social distancing,” the Interfraternity Council has issued an executive order that requires fraternities to hold members accountable for any violations of their social distancing rules. The council will review the policy weekly to determine when the rules are no longer needed.