With the availability of vaccines and the change in Directed Health Measures from the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln is now relaxing restrictions on events such as banquets, philanthropies and dances.
According to Nebraska Today, a committee of eight student leaders along with three staff members developed the new policies regarding formals and dances to allow for more social interactions between students while abiding by the health guidelines.
One of the regulations in place is that Recognized Student Organizations and non-RSOs need to submit a Risk Assessment application with an event approval request. The forms are required to be submitted at least 10 days prior to the requested date.
Size limitations are part of the protocol to ensure safety, so organizations are required to have an attendance tracking system in place. Another important measure is COVID-19 testing: all student attendees must have them done at three different times — four days prior to the event and then five and 10 days after the event takes place.
In addition to the new procedure, students will be expected to wear face masks and make the dance and food areas separate.
Laura Derowitsch, a junior software engineering major and president of the Chi Omega sorority, said that formals and other social events are normally held with other chapters on campus. There are also a lot of sisterhood events and philanthropy events within each chapter throughout the year. Although some of these events weren’t completely cancelled, a lot of the modifications to limit the number of people all at once impacted the social engagement aspect of Greek life.
“For philanthropy events, instead of having events where everyone ate together at the chapter house, it was more a grab n’ go and COVID safe,” Derowitsch said. “There were also temperature checks and it was the same with sisterhood events, we had to do them all in shifts and we could never get the full chapter all at one place.”
Derowitsch said that with the approval for formals, Greek life will be able to be more involved in campus activities and create a richer experience for sorority members in her chapter and others.
Mitch Fisher, a senior advertising and public relations major and president of Phi Kappa Theta, said having these formals is essential to the development and growth of members.
“At Phi Kappa Theta, we put a huge emphasis on being well-formed men so we can contribute positively to society,” Fisher said. “Without these events, it’s been difficult to provide valuable experiences to our members.”
Fisher added that their last philanthropy of the year ended a couple of weeks ago. With the university guidelines now, Fisher’s chapter got their event approved and was able to host people in larger groups safely.
Ray Nierman, a junior mathematics and business administration double major and president of Beta Sigma Psi, said most of Greek life is set to return to normalcy with the new rules from the administration. As far as philanthropies, he said the chapter has already completed the main event of the semester, but looking forward, philanthropies will be easier to host.
“These events are important because they’re special events that bring the guys and their significant others, and help the whole group grow closer,” Nierman said.
Derowitsch, Fisher and Nierman said they are each planning for formals before the semester ends, but it will be difficult due to the time constraint.
“Some of the best memories I have are from spontaneous moments with my brothers,” Fisher said. “Being able to create a space for these experiences is huge for Greek life. It’s important that we move forward and promote community and togetherness. Nothing beats the face-to-face interaction.”