Statement on COVID-19 and Chapter Operations for Spring 2020
Brothers, Advisors, Parents and Friends –
The Psi Upsilon International Office staff recognizes the unprecedented position of our chapters as higher education institutions suspend in-person classes and most scheduled on-campus events because of COVID-19. For many, this may mean uncertainty in how to meet as a chapter, what events are allowed, and how to keep members motivated during this time. While these restrictions, which are warranted, will change our operations the work of the fraternity is still important, and a lot can be accomplished with education, planning, and training.
The list below outlines just some of the operational tasks and alternative activities that can be completed by the chapter during this time. All can be achieved remotely and respecting the social distancing measures we all should be taking. We will be posting this list online and updating it with new ideas and opportunities as they become available.
To every undergraduate chapter we are offering a professional Zoom account to allow you to be able to interact remotely as a chapter more easily. This account allows screen sharing, video conferencing, has no limit on meeting times, and meetings can have up to 100 users. If you would like an account, please fill out this form.
In addition, each chapter will be assigned a dedicated staff member who will be setting up regular one on one Zoom meetings with chapter presidents and other officers to make sure our chapters are supported during this unique time. You will all be contacted this week individually and we will post it online as well.
On Wednesday, March 18th, at 5:00 PM Eastern I’ll be hosting a webinar to discuss our support plans and answer any questions you all have. A separate email invitation will be sent out with login information (you can view a recording of that webinar here). In the coming weeks we’ll be setting up workshops on recruitment, chapter operations, marketing and more to help chapter leaders and officers plan. While these circumstances pose challenges to our fraternity, we hope to use this time to strengthen Psi Upsilon’s future.
All our chapters are expected to follow the recommendations made by local government officials and your host institutions for your specific situation. The Centers of Disease Control is maintaining a special website with up to date information and guidance on COVID-19. If you are unsure of what to do, please do not hesitate to contact the International Office for guidance. We are here to help.
Effects to Chapter Operations for Spring 2020
Chapters should continue to hold virtual meetings for the Chapter and Executive Board during this period. Please utilize our video conferencing software, or other options such as Google Hangouts, Facetime, Webex or Skype (which all have free plans). Staying in contact with your brothers, goal setting for the future and practicing the Cabirean Rights (The informal portion of chapter) is as important today as it is if classes were being held on campus.
Alumni and Volunteers
This is a great time to include Alumni and other volunteers to interact with the chapter who usually cannot due to other commitments and living away from campus. Using remote meeting software will make it easy for alumni corporations, advisors, and undergraduate officers to interact.
Also, if you don’t have a communications strategy, including a newsletter and social media plan, now is a great time to develop it.
New Member Education
Most chapters have completed their recruitment for this semester and are in the middle of the New Member Education process. As always, the health and safety of our members (and those they come in contact with) are our priority. Large in person group events should be avoided at this time, and most of our host institutions are moving to remote learning and many members will not be staying on campus.
With that in mind it is important to ensure that our New Members feel a part of Psi Upsilon. Continuing New Member Education remotely is encouraged and appropriate: Lessons on our history, inviting alumni to talk about their Psi U experience, have officers address the class and talk about the duties and responsibilities of their positions. Most importantly, make sure to stay in contact with your pledge class so that when they return in the Fall they are comfortable to return to Psi U.
In addition, anyone who is currently in the New Member Process is still expected to complete the GreekLifeEDU online program by the end of the semester.
Summer and Fall Recruitment Planning
Now is the time to put together your recruitment strategy for next year. Start creating marketing materials, discuss strategy and appoint recruitment teams to connect with potential members. There are numerous resources you can utilize that are available for free – like Phired Up’s website and blog, Psi Upsilon’s Handbook on Recruitment, and The Fraternity Advisor’s Blog.
Ritual will be more difficult in this time, and we encourage chapters to adapt and remember that the gravity and solemnity is an important part of the experience. Performing ritual remotely will not suffice, and many rituals may need to be delayed until members can return to campus or until social distancing requirements are lifted.
The spirit of our Ritual can still be practiced, though. Some chapters may not have presented Big Brothers to their New Members, but they can be assigned during this time to stay in touch and mentor the New Members. While we may not be able to perform the Senior Charge ceremony, we can still give our graduating members a platform to share their thoughts of their experience with the brotherhood.
We hope that chapters will have the opportunity to initiate their New Member classes this semester but understand in many cases this will not be able to be done responsibly, but including them in the chapter meetings will be a good way to make them feel a part of the chapter itself.
Financial / Collection Plans
Chapters are still obligated to make any outstanding payments, such as Membership Taxes, Outstanding Initiation Fees, and the Chapter Services Fees to the International Office. University closures will not serve as a valid excuse for delinquency or unpaid dues, as almost any charges outstanding are currently past due. We will, of course, work with each Chapter to facilitate this and come up with responsible payment plans during this time period.
Social, Brotherhood, and other Group Events
The health and safety of all members and students is our top priority. Many campuses are discouraging on and off-campus events and all guidance from the Centers of Disease Control emphasizes “Social Distancing” and no gatherings of over 50 for at least the next eight weeks. Therefore, all social functions should be cancelled until your host institution deems they are safe to occur, regardless if they are happening at an off-campus location. If your chapter was planning a formal and was working with a hotel or restaurant, we recommend you plan on it not being able to occur. While we are hopeful that this crisis will subside, we are also realistic that it may not by the end of the semester and hosting a social event of this nature would be irresponsible. If you need aid working with a third-party vendor, we are happy to assist.
While no chapter should be hosting in person social events, during this time I would recommend chapters get creative and stay connected socially online: set up a FIFA league, or your own March Madness tournament or there are multiplayer games like Fortnite and Overwatch. If you’re looking to replace the board game experience check out Jackbox Games.
All chapter reports are still due on a timely basis. If you have any outstanding reports please connect with our Administrative Assistant, Ashley Stein, at Ashley@psiu.org, to set up a time to speak.
At the present time we are still planning to hold the 177th Psi Upsilon Convention and Leadership Institute in Atlanta, GA from July 24-27th. Should any changes to this occur, the Fraternity will send out a communication to the members. If we have to cancel the event, any registration fees will be reimbursed to individual registrants.
Chapters can still find ways to be creative and raise funds for causes that are important to them. Here is a link to a webinar from our partners at Crowd Change with some ideas on how to run a philanthropy remotely.
If your chapter maintains a chapter house, or lives together on a campus owned space, you should follow the guidelines set forth by your host institution and local government. Begin to develop a plan, should the institution move to online learning, to ensure your living space and Chapter members are safe, secure, and adequately accommodated.
In addition some housing corporations have asked for information regarding Emergency Aid Grants from the CARES Act that was recently passed by congress. You can find information from Arnold & Porter here.
Holmes Murphy Resources (Manages Psi Upsilon’s liability insurance and property insurance for many chapters)