This is a live page. Alpha Omega Epsilon volunteers are working diligently to address concerns in our collegiate and alumnae chapters and the organization at large. FAQs will be added and updated as needed.
The health, safety, and well-being of our sisters is our highest priority in this rapidly evolving and unprecedented situation. Like you, we miss the personal interactions that we value within our sorority. We, too, look forward to returning to normal activities and operations. In the meantime, we ask your help to keep yourselves and your sisters healthy.
We are sharing information and guidelines to help navigate through the upcoming months. We ask each person to make individual decisions based on their own unique situation and needs as well as follow the public health mandates and guidelines specific to their country / province / state / city / school.
Q: What is COVID-19 / Coronavirus, how does it spread, and what guidelines are there to help protect the health and well-being of me and my sisters?
A: We encourage members to stay aware and informed by reading any information shared by your college/university and monitoring the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website, the Public Health Agency of Canada Guidelines website, and The World Health Organization website for details about COVID-19, how it spreads, and what you can do to protect yourselves and your sisters. Please see the below links for official sources of information regarding COVID-19.
Q: What if my college/university closes, moves to online courses, or does not allow students to meet in person?
A: Currently to protect the health and well-being of our members we have instructed all members to cease any in-person sorority meetings or events. This instruction will apply throughout the summer. As we approach the Fall 2020 semester, we will issue further instructions regarding chapter operations.
Q: What is Alpha Omega Epsilon doing to keep its members safe during this time?
A: Once COVID-19 was deemed to be a potential threat to our members, the Board of Directors made the difficult choice to suspend all in person activities. Since Alpha Omega Epsilon does not currently provide housing, our operational guidance has been focused around sorority meetings and events. We will continue to monitor the global pandemic and to analyze how it might impact our members. Our Insurance broker is providing updated language for our Risk Management Policy regarding COVID 19. The board will be receiving these changes and review them before communicating to our chapters. This language will tell chapters that they must comply with local and state health guidelines as well as any university policies. We will release more guidance as the Fall term approaches with our members’ safety always in the forefront of our minds.
Q: Can we host virtual meetings? How should we do that?
A: Yes! We highly recommend having meetings and other events virtually. There are many different tools for meetings, communication, virtual engagement, and workshops including Slack, GroupMe, Skype, Google Hangouts, Google Meet, Zoom, Microsoft Teams, GoToMeeting, WebEx, etc. We encourage chapters to research these different options and choose the one that best fits their needs and budget. Our advisors are also available for their chapters to discuss how to host virtual meetings and brainstorming ideas that will work for each of our unique chapters. The Board is currently researching different options to help you choose the right technology.
Q: What happens if in person gatherings are allowed and a sister is not comfortable attending sorority meetings and activities in person yet?
A: For the upcoming year, we ask that chapters provide a virtual option for any required meetings or activities. Each person should make an individual decision regarding in person attendance based on their unique circumstances. We highly encourage having open dialog and communicating meeting preferences and planned methods of attendance. Chapters should re-evaluate their attendance policies for Fall 2020 and are encouraged to be lenient with absences.
Q: What should the chapter’s executive committee do at this time?
A: We believe that all chapters (who were scheduled to) held elections for new officers. Since many of our chapters hold elections during the Spring term, we are planning on holding specific sessions during Virtual Convention 2020 geared towards education for the executive board. Until then, we encourage the chapter’s executive board members to start planning over the summer for their Fall semester as most likely things will be different. Even if your university plans to be in-person, there may be more rules regarding in-person gatherings than normal that you will have to account for in your events. If your university plans to be online, this will significantly change your operations and planning is critical to be able to execute successful events in the Fall. Here are some ideas for your executive board members to consider:
- Meetings - Come up with a virtual meeting schedule that works for your membership. You may want to have some meetings during the summer for a jump start on planning. Also, we are not requiring this yet, but we do believe it would be valuable to set up recurring monthly meetings with your chapter advisor. Situations may come up in the Fall that you haven’t come across before and having a regular touchpoint with your advisor could help you navigate these situations.
- Recruitment - If you plan on having your new members be a part of recruitment it might be useful to have virtual workshops to educate new members on your chapter’s recruitment plans. If you need to move to virtual recruitment, this may be new for all members and workshops to explain the virtual recruitment plans for the Fall may be necessary for all members to participate in. Phired Up has provided free on-line Fraternity/Sorority growth education and we recommend looking through some of their session recordings.
- PR/Social Media - Now more than ever your chapter should be focusing on its online presence as this will be your main source of information for both PNMs and current members most likely. We recommend partnering with your recruitment chair to increase your social media presence and be able to attract PNMs to your organization via virtual means. Social media is also a good tool to engage current members over the summer and throughout the semester. Alpha Omega Epsilon has been working hard to up their social media game to provide you with resources and content that you can repost to help you get started. Some ideas to enhance your social media are: senior shout outs (if you’d like your seniors to be featured on the Alpha Omega Epsilon instagram account, please fill out this survey), nominate a “sister of the week” and have them take over your instagram account, utilize polls, gifs, quizzes, templates of questions for members to answer, other posts, etc.
- Scholarship - Moving to online learning may mean new ways of learning for sisters. Consider planning on hosting a virtual workshop or study sessions via Zoom, Google Hangouts, where sisters can join at a set time and study together. You could also do a workshop on best practices in taking online learning courses or study tips. We encourage all members to be in close contact with professors when unsure about assignments or classes. Often TAs are also available to help with questions regarding coursework.
- Philanthropy - Service events across our chapters typically are unique to each group. We do encourage participation with our International Philanthropy Partners: Dress for Success and FIRST Robotics, but do not require events with these organizations. While many of our chapters host events that benefit these organizations, others choose to give to more causes as well. Fundraising online has been successful for many non-profits. We encourage philanthropy chairs to research various online fundraising methods and consider highlighting the donation methods on their social media accounts to get the attention of donors.
- Risk Management - The health and safety of our members is of utmost importance. During this global pandemic, we are facing many new and unprecedented challenges. We suggest that you check in throughout the summer with all of your sisters to see how they are doing through social distancing and stay at home orders.
- Sisterhood - We suggest brainstorming ideas to keep sisterhood alive during the Summer and for the Fall term. Many of our chapters have had success assigning buddies (similar to Carnation Conversations) for virtual meetings or coffee chats via FaceTime or video chat. Others are creating scrapbook pages or social media posts about themselves to be assembled into a collective of all sisters. We’ve heard a few chapters have also had watch parties where they can chat live with each other while watching the same show or moving from their favorite streaming site. Another idea for new members is to write a letter to themselves and have them seal it and open it up when they graduate (a sort of personal time capsule). We will continue to gather ideas and communicate best practices to our members.
- Professional/Alumnae - This is a great time to touch base with your alumnae. Since many of us are at home with freed up calendars, this is an opportunity for chapters to host virtual alumnae panels. You could also set up pairings for coffee chats with your current actives and alumnae where the member could discuss what legacy they would like to leave and the alumnae could discuss where they wish to see the chapter.
- Membership Educator - With the excellent efforts of your recruitment chair and committee, we are sure that you will end up with a great Fall 2020 candidate class to educate. Planning for membership education should assume that you will have a typical sized candidate class or possibly even larger than normal. Several sororities are reporting higher interest in membership due to PNMs wanting to find a community in college, especially the high school seniors who missed out on send offs and normal graduation activities. We highly recommend you plan for virtual membership education. Alpha Omega Epsilon is working to provide you membership education quizzes online and to give you resources to help support your education efforts. You may also want to think about big/little reveal in a virtual environment. If this hasn’t happened for your Spring 2020 Candidates, this may be the first thing you need to plan as it may happen sooner in the semester.
Q: Are there restrictions on how we can use the Internet or Social Media?
A: Yes, the Sorority has a policy, the Social Utility Policy, that instructs members on their social media use if they associate any of their accounts with Alpha Omega Epsilon. The definition of association can be found in the policy. If you have any questions regarding this policy, please contact your Chapter Advisor.
Q: Will Convention 2020 still be happening in Houston, TX?
A: Due to COVID-19, the Board of Directors has decided to cancel our in-person meeting this year. We are working on evaluating what a virtual convention may look like instead. Stay tuned for updates! Elections will still happen via mail-in ballot.
Q: What if my college/university closes, moves to online courses, or does not allow students to meet in person for Fall 2020?
A: We anticipate that Alpha Omega Epsilon chapter meetings and activities will follow and mirror the host college/university’s regulations and timeline. Our chapters will be instructed to follow all guidelines and quarantines put in place by the host college/university. We encourage chapters to hold off on planning events that are in-person or have in-person aspects until later this summer when health guidelines and policies are published for Fall 2020 to ensure your event complies with local regulations.
Q: How do we form a meaningful bond of sisterhood in this time where we might have to be virtual?
A: In challenging times like this, Alpha Omega Epsilon sisterhood is even more important. We are fortunate to have a support system of sisters who are there for us in the best of times and worst of times. You don’t need to feel isolated. While events and meetings in person have been cancelled, there are many ways to engage with your sisters. We encourage you to take advantage of technology to stay in touch. Reach out to those members who may feel disconnected. When you show care and concern for one another and those in your community, you live out our values, ideals, and objectives. This virtual sisterhood mayl look different for each of our chapters. Like with many other things in the Sorority we value the uniqueness of our chapters and members. Some ideas for you to consider are:
- Holding virtual chapter meetings focusing on your sisterhood
- Holding virtual workshops where sisters share their passions so others may learn from them
- Celebrate birthdays, holidays, graduations, engagements - anything that is important to you!
- Work with your alumnae to host panels about the professional world after college
- Assign pen pals to exchange letters with over the summer
Q: What will recruitment look like in Fall 2020 if campuses aren’t open in the fall?
A: We firmly believe that recruitment is still possible, and also critical to our future members’ lives. We need to continue to provide the opportunity to join Alpha Omega Epsilon because now more than ever women in STEM need a community to get through these difficult times. We believe that recruitment marketing on campus can be converted virtually by heavily utilizing social media (Instagram, Facebook, etc.), providing a survey for PNMs to sign up for more information, and direct communication with PNMs nominated by our current sisters.