How Pi Lambda Phi has Coped with Covid

Fraternity has always been an interactional experience with years of traditions based around meetings, hand shaking, mingling, hanging out, and just getting together to socialize. 

So what happens when a pandemic, a force of nature, takes that away?

Pi Lambda Phi adapted

When the pandemic peaked and many schools restricted on-campus activity, the Fraternity was faced with the prospect of no recruitment, no communal housing, no meetings, no socializing, and no growth. The IHQ and the Foundation realized they must quickly adapt to support the undergraduates. 

A $20,000 grant from the Foundation enabled the IHQ to research how other entities were changing, and to strategize how to adapt their model to best return our chapters to a safe, yet functional model of operation.

Changing the model to make things work

IHQ revised the chapter services model to work with individual chapters and help them develop their own comprehensive plans to get their chapters functioning, and eventually get students back on campus safely in accordance with the policies of their respective universities. 

Much like the rest of the world, virtual meetings became the preferred method of communicating. IHQ staff met more frequently (at least every other week) with chapter leaders to provide guidance to adapt to new policies. They even created a new policy for virtual initiation.

There were alternatives to in-person events, and lower risk events (e.g. outdoor activities) and Covid resources were provided on the IHQ website. Recommendations for Covid controls like quarantine rooms and a buddy system for mental health made it safer for brothers to return to their houses.

Navigating personalities was a challenge: brothers entrenched in the old world, those who weren’t comfortable with virtual, and the new guys who didn’t know what to expect. But chapters adapted and many even thrived.

New World Recruiting

With personalized individual recruitment plans guided by IHQ staff, chapters adapted to the virtual realities that they faced, and many used the new techniques to their advantage. Many chapters relied heavily on web/social media, or came up with other incentives like offering a scholarship.

As restrictions were eased, IHQ staff went back to campus to help to recolonize Penn in 2022.

Notable New Member Recruitment during the pandemic

Fall 2020

  • U of Florida – 40
  • Florida State – 23
  • Penn State – 14
  • East Carolina – 12

Spring 2021

  • West Virginia – 43 (recolonized)
  • Ohio State – 32
  • RPI – 20
  • VA Tech – 20
  • St. Johns – 15
  • U of California Merced – 12

Fall 2021

  • Florida State – 40
  • East Carolina -20
  • Ohio State – 17
  • U of Florida – 38
  • VA Tech – 29

Spring 2022

  • Florida State – 17
  • St. John’s – 16
  • Ohio State – 32
  • Bloomsburg – 19
  • UVA – 16

Thank you alumni!

Thanks to our alumni for generously supporting the Foundation during these turbulent times. Your support allowed the IHQ staff to dedicate time and resources to adapt and overcome a nearly unthinkable reality.

Article written by Shawn Mahoney (Temple University, ’92)