BOONE — Leadership of Appalachian State University’s fraternities and sororities issued a joint statement on Aug. 3 that outlines guidelines and actions for the safety of students and others in the community returning to campus during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In the document, the student leaders stated “that as residents of Boone and the campus community, we cannot put anyone at a greater risk when it comes to the spread of the COVID-19 virus.” The statement was issued by the Governing Councils of Appalachian State University, the Multicultural Greek Council, the National Pan-Hellenic Council, the Panhellenic Council and the Interfraternity Council — which represent approximately 1,800 students and 32 recognized fraternities and sororities on campus.
The statement, which includes the groups’ commitment to “enforcing the directives and initiatives of our state, town and campus,” was signed by council presidents Gaby Romero, Multicultural Greek Council; Kris Posey, National Pan-Hellenic Council; Alicia Biel, Panhellenic Council; and Sam Haggard, Interfraternity Council.
As “governing council presidents,” the statement reads, “we are committed to enforcing these initiatives and being leaders on our campus. Our councils and fellow leaders on our boards will do our part to educate our community and will provide structure and guidance to help us get through these challenges together.”
Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs J.J. Brown commended the groups’ leadership, saying, “This fall will bring many challenges for us all, and it will be imperative that we all work together to keep our community safe and healthy. Thank you again for your leadership in putting out a document that reflects this very point.”
The guidelines, which will be enforced both on and off campus by the councils and chapters, call for the following:
- Adherence to laws, policies and procedures set forth by North Carolina, Boone and the university.
- Prohibitions on hosting any gatherings that exceed caps set by the state or university.
- Practicing social distancing and providing information and education about responsible citizenship, safety measures and public health initiatives.
- Managing and monitoring events and introducing innovative ways to engage members on campus and throughout the community.
- Encouraging peers across campus to do their part to keep Appalachian and the Boone community healthy and safe.
- The statement also declares “those organizations that do not act according to these initiatives and our community values will be held accountable.”
According to the council presidents, each of the governing councils recognized the need for leadership and agreed to the joint statement. The statement is being shared by each president via an email to their respective chapter presidents and delegates. It will also be shared in a weekly newsletter and made available to Fraternity and Sorority Life advisers.
Becky Acton, Appalachian’s assistant director of campus activities and FSL in the Department of Student Engagement and Leadership, said each chapter has had or is scheduled to have a summer planning meeting with her. During the meetings, she reviews the face coverings policy, events and gathering guidelines recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and social policy and expectations.
“We have begun plans for virtual chapter meetings, recruitment events and brotherhood/sisterhood and are developing new ways to engage in fundraising for their local and national philanthropies,” Acton said. “The office is also providing guidance and education, including a crash course in adaptive leadership theory to help leaders develop new tools to use as they lead through challenge and change.”
Asked how they felt about returning to campus, Romero said, “I just hope that everyone can use their common sense.” Biel said she is excited but also a little cautious as “this semester will just need to be taken one day at a time.” Posey said he, too, is excited about returning to campus.
“I know it’s going to be different, but I miss the App State community,” Posey said. “I miss the warm, welcoming environment that the students give off on campus.”
Haggard was excited to come back to the university, but said “we need to make sure that we are following all of the state and CDC guidelines.”