FSL gets creative with philanthropy and recruiting following COVID-19 guidelines


Submitted by: Matt Giffin

Fraternity brothers from left to right: Mike Serrato, Justin Politzer, Michael Wolfrum, Matt Giffin, Cam Ridenour, Cam Deal

Grace Scarberry, Reporter

Due to coronavirus safety precautions, Ashland University fraternities and sororities have been forced to explore new ways of accomplishing their very mission; to develop a supportive community of brothers and sisters that is empowered to lead and serve, creating engaged citizens of the future.

Although some events and traditions will still happen, the Greek community is now planning online options and socially distanced functions and gatherings. 

Dustin Hargis, Director of Fraternity and Sorority life (FSL) and Student Leadership and Residence Life, explained that during a typical year, the community will raise up to $80,000 of philanthropic donations, but he is concerned donations to the chapters will not be as available this year due to Covid-19 related financial issues.

“When we look at some of our larger scale events we’ll have to see how they can adapt to a universal format. One of our groups is looking at still doing a walk-a-thon but looking into streaming it in a virtual setting,” he said. 

This will allow people to tune in that may not otherwise be comfortable attending in person and FSL can still collect donations. 

According to Molly Madill, recruitment chair of Theta Phi Alpha, raising money for charities is the main reason to hold membership in a sorority.

Hargis believes this year, instead of focusing on how much money the chapters can raise, the focus should be how they can raise any at all. 

“It’s definitely going to be an interesting year for the philanthropic side,” he said. “I think it’s also important we recognize it might not be the most optimal time for people to donate. Covid is hitting everyone, so funds are definitely a little different for some people so that’s an aspect we’re looking at as well. Maybe the focus isn’t raising as much money this year, but how we can continue to raise.”

For example, the annual lip-sync battle that collects donations for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital will still be held in November, but all routines will be pre-recorded and streamed online, as well as virtual silent auctions that are typically held in person by different sororities. 

Hargis hopes this will lead to a larger audience since more people, both on campus and in the Ashland community will now have easier access.

“On a normal year there’s usually a lot of community engagement,” he said. “We’re not just trying to get people that are a part of the fraternity and sorority community or the AU community, but also the larger Ashland community.”

 Philanthropy won’t be the only struggle the chapters are facing. Recruitment must also be modified due to necessary Covid-19 precautions. 

Sororities have transferred to online recruitment entirely and fraternities are looking into socially distanced events to help keep a sense of normality. 

“It will be very different to see and have those conversations over zoom,” Madill said. It’s nice to be in person to really get to know what people value and just get to know people on a personal level. It’s still face to face but it will definitely be something to get used to.”

Fraternity recruitment is going to look pretty similar except for the social distancing guidelines during the events the chapters do. 

“We are planning on having some events where people are able to hang out and play some yard games, like a fruit baseball event where you can smash some fruit with some baseball bats, which sounds like a good time,” Hargis said. 

There will be plenty of events going on, but when individuals are there, masks and six-foot social distancing are required. 

Despite all the changes, Hargis is optimistic. 

“The chapter members are just excited to be back on campus with their brothers and sisters… we’re excited for a good year,” he said.