COVID guidelines for Greek Life highlighted

Ryan Meyer, Staff Reporter

All student organizations are expected to follow the guidelines put in place to protect against COVID-19, namely those associated with Greek Life as Greek Life is under fire all over the country.

As of Oct. 17, 322 Eastern students and 35 employees had tested positive for COVID-19 since the start of the school year.

Anne Flaherty, Eastern’s Vice President for Student Affairs, attributed the development of the guidelines to Nathan Wehr and former interim VPSA Lynette Drake.

“The Director of Fraternity and Sorority Programs and the previous Vice President for Student Affairs developed the guiding principles,” Flaherty said. “I had an opportunity to see these shortly after I started in my role at EIU at the end of July.”

Wehr, the Director of Fraternity and Sorority Programs at Eastern, said he was heavily involved in the creation of Eastern’s guiding principles for Greek Life, and that other Illinois universities’ policies influenced Eastern’s own policies.

“I played a major part in creating the guidelines for the fraternity and sorority life community concerning COVID-19 guidelines,” Wehr said. “These guidelines were also based off fellow state institutions’ guidelines for their fraternity and sorority community.”

Eastern’s six guiding principles, listed in a document entitled “Pandemic Planning- Fraternity and Sorority Programs- Phase 4- Restore Illinois,” are compliance, partnership, flexibility, grace, contact tracing, and community leadership.

The document also stresses multiple times that all social events are canceled and that it is highly recommended that ritual and initiation ceremonies only include individuals necessary and important to the ceremonies.

The document also states that any Fraternity and Sorority Life sponsored programs, events or meetings require “face coverings and physical distancing (6-foot).”

Wehr believes that there is room to improve when it comes to fraternities and sororities adhering to guidelines.

“There is always an opportunity to enhance Protecting Our Panthers from the fraternity and sorority community here at EIU,” Wehr said.

Wehr said that members of the community are capable of living up to their organization’s values, and that there are consequences for failing to do so.

“At the end of the day, the members within the fraternity and sorority community know their organizations’ values and have the personal accountability to practice what they preach,” Wehr said. “If they decide to falter on living their organization’s values, then there are consequences for those actions.”

These consequences can include social suspension for the remainder of the academic term, a letter sent to the chapter’s National Headquarters or Administration Office, or a potential suspension from the university depending on the severity of the violation, according to the “Pandemic Planning” document.

“We encourage our members to be more diligent in Protecting Our Panthers, especially from the fraternity and sorority community here at EIU,” Wehr said.

Every member of Eastern’s community are expected to follow the guidelines, not just those involved in Greek organizations, Flaherty said.

“It is always our expectations that all members of our campus community follow the guiding principles and policies to ensure the safety of our campus community,” Flaherty said.

 

Ryan Meyer can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]