WVU fraternities and sororities will continue their tradition of service virtually as a part of the Greek Week of Engagement.
“Every year, we had a program called the Big Greek Day of Service where the Greeks would go out into the community and do various acts of service, which obviously we can’t do that given the response to COVID-19,” said Matthew Richardson, director at the Center for Fraternal Values and Leadership at WVU. “The students have very much wanted to continue to give back and serve.”
Through a collaborative effort between the Center for Fraternal Values and Leadership and the Center for Service and Learning, students who are a part of Greek life on campus will be able to aid their community through online outlets via iServe from April 18 through April 22.
“What we found first and foremost were blood drives, which there's a need for right now,” Richardson said. “If students in their home communities want to participate in that, there are safety protocols so that they can do so. On the iServe page that we created, there's a lot of things students can be doing where they can serve and they don't even have to change out of their pajamas.”
These activities range from participating in online surveys to help facilitate research, providing information for studies and helping with letter writing campaigns.
“There's phone conversations you can do with seniors, you can write cards and letters for people in nursing homes or you can pack food boxes and send them off,” said Zack Pell, a senior student assistant and marketing and event specialist at the Center for Fraternal Values and Leadership, as and member of the Pi Kappa Phi fraternity.
Richardson said more than 4,000 students could potentially be participating in the Week of Engagement.
“As Greeks, we find it important to give back to the community and Morgantown embraces the University so much that we want to do our part to make it better,” Pell said. “I think it’s really great that the University is still trying to bring everyone together even during a time when we are all social distancing and far apart.”
The last day of the Greek Week of Engagement falls on Earth Day, therefore students a part of Greek life are also encouraged to do an act of sustainability.
“We have a saying that 'Greeks are going to go green,' and so with that we are going to encourage them to do sustainable practices, even if it is something as simple as recycling or repurposing something for use, planting something outside or whatever we can do to celebrate Earth Day,” Richardson said. “That’s how we are going to end our week of engagement.”
Students will also be able to log hours for services of their choosing.
“If you have another service opportunity in your area, maybe you're helping put food together for a food pantry or you're already engaged in a service in your community that is social distancing, we are giving that as an option because we know our students are all over the country,” said Katie Moore, assistant director at the Center for Fraternal Values and Leadership at WVU.
Apart from the Greek Week of Engagement, students in the Greek community will also be able to take part in a more traditional Greek Week of celebration beginning virtually April 27.
"We’re asking [students in sororities and fraternities] to have a Zoom social hour where they can get together and check up [on] each other, and we will have social media competitions,” Moore said. “A TikTok competition as a fun way for people to stay safe and engaged.”.
To finish the second week, they will have a “Greek first of the month Friday” to celebrate some of the milestones accomplished by the organizations.
“This year we turned 130 years old because Phi Kappa Psi was founded May 23, 1890, here in Morgantown,” Richardson said. “The first NPHC group was Kappa Alpha Psi in 1969 – that’s our historically black organization. It’s about highlighting our history to show some fun stuff, which doesn’t replace being together, but it gives us something to sort of close out our year together.”
Richardson later added that Kappa Alpha Psi is just one of WVU's historically black organizations. WVU has seven active chapters of the nine NPHC international organizations.
Correction: This article updated information about NPHC groups on campus.