During the 2020-21 academic year chapter programming or even the usual sorority experience is going to look different. Social distancing or completely virtual campus life will change things like annual fundraisers, meaningful sisterhood events and other experiences members look forward to each year.

But, I challenge you to think about what truly made those events special? How did those experiences contribute to the shared purpose and feelings of sisterhood? Was the event what made these traditions so special or the people you spent your time with and the memories you made? Or could it have been something more? Something deeper.

The feelings and motivations for building a strong sisterhood in our chapters are still present. Having a community in college and feeling connect is going to be even more necessary in a socially distant and virtual atmosphere.

Looking at the past to see the future

You may be wondering if membership in your organization is going to be relevant if you aren’t going to be on campus this fall. You might be wondering, will sisterhood from a distance be worth it? If history is to teach us anything, it is that the way our sisterhood functions has been evolving since the founding of our organizations. If you look deep enough, you might even see what impact distance might make to sisterhood.

Each of the 26 NPC organizations was founded at a time when women were excluded from other groups on a college campus. A small group of women banded together and created the very organizations that so many women have benefitted from. The founders of our Panhellenic organizations began to explore expansion outside of their own college campus, hometowns, states and for some organizations, countries. They had to share the value and worth of membership in their organization, actively search for women of character to become members and embrace the complexity of connection across stateliness when they did not have the technology to assist them.

Our sorority founders had to adapt as their organizations grew and gained more members. What started for them as a room full of members expanded into something much larger and as it expanded across the country. As the organization grew, so did the need for engagement for all members. Sisters separated by space were able to use letter writing to connect with one another. They organized reunions to connect with sisters and continue sorority engagement through their decision to host convention .

Sisterhood has never been bound to a college campus, a chapter house or even the restraints of in-person interactions. So no, our sisterhood isn’t canceled in our socially distance world. It has just changed and adapted for this current period in time.

We must follow their legacy and continue to adapt our sisterhood to fit the needs of our members now. Just like our founders, we adapt to our circumstances because sisterhood is just that important. What ways can you show up for sisterhood?

Ideas to adapt and most importantly show up for your sisterhood

Celebrate a sister’s birthday

Think about sending a birthday box that you can fill with snacks, gifts and notes from sisters. This is a great way to help members feel good and connected with sisters.

Take a walk together

Grab your headphones, call your friend and get moving! This is a super simple way to stay active and connect with sisters. It can be hard to find time in our busy scheduled but find a time you can all carve out 5, 10 or 15 minutes to catch up.

Send a question in a group chat

Search for reflection or table topic questions that can really create a dialogue with sisters. Start a group text and ask your sisters the prompt. You can learn so much about your friends from hearing them answers like, “what is your goal for this year?” or even, “what your favorite dessert and why?”

Host a movie night

Host a Netflix watch party to binge a new season of your favorite show or start one together. You can use the new Netflix party option to chat while you watch!

Start a book club

Read a light book or dive deep to learn more about topics of interest to your members. Use this as a chance to educate one another and challenge how we perceive the world. Need a place to start? Check out this link.

Play games together

Find a way to play your favorite weeknight or weekend games online. You can use table top simulator or other similar tools.

Plan a reunion

Should you feel safe and it complies with your local/state laws, consider making plans for a long weekend to reunite! Can’t do it in person? Think about how you can plan a digital celebration? How can you get creative and still get engagement from members?

Celebrate things missed

A sister miss her study abroad trip? Did your friend group miss a planned vacation? Don’t let that stop you from celebrating in-person or virtually. Just be aware of any appropriation in your planning.

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