As students return to school and COVID-19 numbers on campuses sharply rise, Greek life organizations across the country have come under fire for their lack of responsibility in maintaining safe practices.
At UMKC, however, Greek life has been relatively uncriticized.
“I think our university is providing great guidance in event planning and personal conduct. We are going virtual with IFC (Interfraternity Council) meetings, our house on campus has a limited capacity, and we no longer allow guests,” said UMKC IFC President Noah Kuzca. “These are just a few of the ways we are doing our part in keeping UMKC safe.”
As an additional safeguard, the IFC can now punish members of Greek organizations if they fail to comply with the new mandatory regulations. Infractions are reported to UMKC’s Fraternity and Sororities Affairs advisor for the students to face further disciplinary action.
“We, internally, have a judicial process for IFC,” said Kuzca. “It was required that our fraternities follow all UMKC protocols, and if there had been a reported infraction, we would have initiated an investigation.”
In addition to new regulations, Greek life organizations have had to adapt to the social challenges posed by coronavirus.
“As far as our chapters’ events, many have found creative ways to come together safely,” said UMKC’s Panhellenic Council President Emily Rackers. “From hosting events outdoors in small groups to taking advantage of Zoom features I have never even heard of, I have been so impressed by how well our community adapted to ensure our members’ safety.”
While it is impossible to tell how effective the changes have been, UMKC has reported a lower number of infections than other regional universities.
Just across the state line, the University of Kansas (KU) is currently booming with COVID cases on its campus, specifically within fraternities and sororities. According to reporting from the KC Star, as of Sept. 1 over half of the campus’ 546 cases were related to Greek life. KU Chancellor Douglas Girod also noted that within the Greek community one out of every 10 students has tested positive for coronavirus.
With their cases rising, KU students are demanding their campus be closed, and classes be held entirely online. This resulted in a massive march last Monday, where students protested against in-person classes. As of now, KU’s IFC President Joe Davidson has declined to comment.
So far, despite national challenges, a more restrained Greek life at UMKC has been able to continue.