We’re all currently living through tough times. Due to COVID-19, many aspects of our lives have changed, including our lives as sorority women. What does this mean for our organizations? You might be feeling the same way I am – I’m anxious, confused and overwhelmed as to how to handle all of this as a leader in my community. But as leaders, we owe it to our members to continue to lead and support them as best we can. As Panhellenic President at Michigan State University, I’ve implemented some ideas in order in order to support my executive board, chapter presidents and chapter members. Here are some tips that I’ve implemented or have seen implemented within my community that could help you.
Holding Meetings Virtually
It’ll help both you and your members to try to keep as normal a schedule as possible. Continue to hold your regularly scheduled meetings, like chapter or committee meetings, at their normally scheduled time. I like to hold meetings over Zoom, as it still creates (somewhat) face-to-face interaction and allows for productive conversations. Several chapters here have held Q&A sessions over Zoom in order to address any questions that members may have during this time. Do whatever you think your members will be most receptive to (it doesn’t hurt to ask them what they think!)
Even though many organization’s events have been canceled for the semester, that doesn’t mean that meetings aren’t helpful. Consider bringing in a guest speaker or start discussing topics for next semester. I recently brought in a guest speaker from our university to a meeting to speak about empowering women during the formal recruitment process. Even though our formal recruitment is held in the fall, it doesn’t hurt to get a head start on future events, and our guest speaker helped generate interest for our meeting as well as gave us new and exciting ideas.
Engagement and Involvement
Although we may not be with our members in-person, we can still find ways to stay engaged online. Some of my campus’s chapters have created online contests for their members, where they compete in a weekly challenge and the winner earns a gift card. They’ve also created specific Facebook pages or GroupMe chats for sharing different activities, mental health tips, and other ideas to best handle being home.
This is also a great time to keep your members involved on your chapter’s social media! Try a “Tag a Sister Who…” Instagram story, or post “throwback” photos from previous events your chapter has held. While these are just a few ideas that I’ve seen or used, anything that helps keep your sisters engaged and involved is worth trying. There are an endless amount of ideas that can help encourage and enrich your sisterhood while being completely virtual.
Even if your plans for the semester had to be postponed or canceled, it’s never too early to start planning for future events. This will help you stay productive and connected to your sorority, while also giving you some sense of normalcy. This is also a good time to work on anything that’s been on the “back burner” for your chapter. If you didn’t have the time to get to something specific this semester, now is the perfect time to work on it! Brainstorming ideas with your executive board or members will not only help to come up with ideas but gauge where your members are and see what kinds of events they’d like to have in the future.
Support your Members – and yourself!
This is a tough time for everyone. At the end of the day, as a leader, the most important thing you can do right now is to support your members. Try to offer resources for your sisters such as academic and mental health resources, and other ideas to stay happy and healthy. With that being said, don’t forget to support yourself! Self-care is necessary if you’re going to be able to support others to the best of your ability. Take time for yourself and remember that this is only temporary.