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Virtual Chapter Management

Updated as of 3/25/2020

It has become clear that we are in uncertain times, and in many ways, uncharted territory with the required responses that have and will continue to create new realities associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. The resources below are intended to help you navigate the era of virtual engagement. We hope the resources below will help you maintain a strong sense of belonging, connection, and passion as you navigate a virtual fraternity and sorority experience.  This resource was shared with permission from the Florida State Fraternity & Sorority Life Department.

Sisterhood and Brotherhood

Staying Connected with Meetings:

  • One-on-one meetings:  Facetime, Android Video Calling, Skype, Google Hangout are all great for one-on-one video calls.
  • Group Meetings: Zoom may be used by Vanderbilt students for participating in video conferencing, web conferencing, virtual meetings and more.  Students can access Zoom by visiting vanderbilt.zoom.us and using their VUNetID and password to sign in.  Some chapters have already used this for chapter meetings with good success.
  • Check out this great resource from Phired Up for hosting a successful virtual meeting.

Member Engagement:

  • Consider how to adapt the ways your members connect to the current circumstances. For instance, you could hold Zoom calls, use an app like Marco Polo so chapter members can stay up to date with each other, or watch Netflix together with the Chrome extension Netflix Party.
  • If you have a brotherhood/sisterhood/retention chair or committee, you can utilize them to check in on groups of members in the coming weeks. Consider hosting small virtual get-togethers. Split the chapter into smaller groups or even by new member class/line. Assign an executive board member to each of the groups and have them host/create programs for each of those groups based on what people are most interested in doing.
  • Consider hosting virtual study sessions or have a standing open Zoom room specifically catered to study sessions, based on major or with chapter members who have the same classes or major. This will give you that great feeling of being in the library and encourage you to look at your books more than your timeline.
  • Pair each member of the chapter together with someone they do not have a great opportunity to connect with throughout the year. Encourage them to connect at least once within the week either via phone or a video call. Check out this randomizer to make your life a little easier when randomizing parings or small groups. Rotate groups around every two weeks or so. This would be especially great for newer members the chapter may not know as well yet.
  • If your chapter had new members this semester, think about how you can intentionally reach out to them during this time. Excitement is often high after initiation, and you don’t want them to feel lost. Get them engaged with some virtual committees early on. See if there are any of them that want to continue to lead engagement for their new member class throughout this virtual period. Encourage them to utilize some of the same resources the chapter leadership is using to maintain chapter engagement.
  • Phired Up Productions created a great resource with many other ideas about fostering brotherhood and sisterhood online that you can access here.

Communication

  • Work with your advisor(s), headquarters or regional team, council advisor, and/or chapter coach when appropriate to ensure that official updates and communication are vetted and appropriate. Advisors are included on all communication and are great resources to help you manage the chapter.
  • Consider free software that can help manage segmented communication. For example, Mailchimp can help you create specific communication to various groups (parents/families, chapter members, executive board members, advisors, etc.). Their free version allows you to create email templates and see who has opened your email and even clicked on the links you are providing.
  • If you want to create graphically stimulating content, Canva.com or even Gimp.org feature free graphic design software with templates to create your next masterpiece to share through social media.
  • It’s okay to say that you don’t know an answer or that the update does not address any concern – this is better than communicating information that you then have to rescind.
  • Use preexisting forms of chapter communication (GroupMe, Facebook, email, Omega One, etc.) whenever possible to make the communication as seamless as possible.

Operations

Chapter Officers:

  • The chapter’s executive board should continue to meet regularly via Zoom or other video conferencing software. Chapters are encouraged to establish a set time that works around every officer’s schedule and make sure everyone attends from week to week. Utilize other communication platforms in between video meetings.
  • Chapters should continue to engage chapter advisors in day to day chapter operations. Include advisors in the Zoom meetings with the rest of the executive board.
  • Chapter presidents are encouraged to meet with each executive board officer to discuss plan for completing position duties virtually for this semester while planning for upcoming semesters.
  • If any chapter officers will transition during spring 2020, consider modifying transition documents or creating transition documents for future officers. Contemplate hosting several virtual transition meetings themed to several aspects of chapter management (i.e. finances, marketing & communication, member engagement, etc.)

Chapter Management 

  • Keep up to date with your national organization’s expectations of the chapter. These may be shifting rapidly, but be sure to keep your chapter in good standing.
  • Continue to host virtual chapter meetings throughout this time to have the chapter connect with each other. Remember all of us joined our chapters for human connection. It is even more important in this time to continue to encourage positive connection through strong chapter meetings/programming.
  • Should the chapter need to conduct a vote for business, consider compiling the information to be voted on and send to all voting members prior to the vote being conducted. Give members ample time to review the information you are sending over, preferably longer than 48 – 72 hours. Your chapter constitution & bylaws might already have a “reading” or “reviewing” period before votes or constitutional amendments can take place. Make sure to review those and stick to those even throughout this virtual period. You should ratify these votes at your next in-person chapter meeting in the fall.   There is a voting platform available on your anchorlink page.
  • Recruitment/ Rush/ Intake are currently scheduled to occur in-person. Chapters should continue to hold their planning meetings to prepare for new members in fall of 2020. Use this time to clean up your processes and hone in on the skills necessary for your chapter to have a successful recruitment period. What could you be preparing for now that would help you in the future?
  • Update all chapter websites and social media platforms to reflect the current chapter life. Incoming students, prospective students, and family members are looking at your websites and social media platforms to understand whether or not they are interested in joining your organization. Most websites are outdated and present very little information to the prospective member. Consider giving visitors to your website a better idea of what your organization values.

Planning

  • While major operations – like events and programs – have ceased, you can use this time for planning with your executive board or officer team for the fall semester. Start to lay the foundation for how you will engage the chapter within the first month of in-person instruction. You may have new members then and they may have all experienced this virtual period in various ways. Think about how to engage all these various constituents when you are all back in person.
  • Think about what are things you always wish you had time to do, but never have the time to do so during the semester. Organizing think tanks, working on transition documents, brainstorming bylaws revisions, and cleaning up chapter files are all things that can now be more feasible.
  • This is a great time for you to research whether your inter/national organization has an awards process and consider applying for one or all of the awards. Even if you choose not to submit an application for an award, your chapter can learn a lot from reviewing what is considered a great chapter by the standard of your inter/national organization.
  • Your council advisors and all OGL staff continue to be available to assist with chapter needs and goals. Your advisors will be reaching out to schedule bi-weekly calls/zoom meetings. In the meantime, please reach out us as needed.
  • Work with your executive board and chapter advisor to sketch out a return plan and priority list when operations resume. Construct your plan to be a day by day format with specific tasks and deadlines rather than specific calendar dates to allow for flexibility while accomplishing the tasks.

Wellness

  • The Center for Student Wellbeing strongly encourages all students to take steps to protect themselves from illness.The Center will remain open and continue coaching sessions with students by phone. Students can call 615-322-0480 or email healthydores@vanderbilt.edu to schedule. Appointments can also be scheduled via the office of Student Care Coordination. If you are feeling anxiety or stress related to the coronavirus, know that there are resources and services to help you manage your concerns.
  • The Office of Student Care Coordination will remain open and accepting appointments with students virtually (telephone/email). You can reach out to schedule an appointment (615-343-9355) or complete the online intake form and schedule online.
  • The Project Safe Center will continue scheduling appointments with students via phone or video. Students can call 615-875-0660 to schedule. The 24-hour crisis support hotline remains available at 615-322-SAFE (7233).
  • The University Counseling Center is moving to a full remote operation of care consisting of telemental health consultations. All appointments will be completed via phone consultation or Zoom (when legally permissible). Students should call 615-322-2571 to schedule an appointment.
    • Crisis Care Counseling is also available from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. by calling 615-322-2571. After hours and weekends, students can call the same number at 615-322-2571 and press option 2 to connect with the on-call provider

Housing

All Greek residents have vacated the chapter facilities.  Those facilities that the university manages – all IFC fraternities, the NPHC Community House and Zeta Tau Alpha will receive refunds on the same schedule as the the residence halls.  The other Panhellenic sororities will issues refunds at their discretion and schedule.  We do not have a schedule for collection of belongings that remain in the chapter facilities.  A communication will come to all students related to this that will be consistent with the residence halls as soon as we are able.  Thank you for your patience in this evolving situation.

More information to come.