Out of the 40 sorority and fraternity houses at IU, 37 are completely closed to members for the rest of the semester, IU spokesperson Chuck Carney said Thursday.
Each sorority and fraternity house at IU is privately owned and managed by the respective greek organizations, but IU’s Dean of Students Office provided guidance to the greek houses and advised them to close amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Dean of Students Office suggested the organizations set up move-out times for the students living in the houses by appointment, similarly to how IU coordinated move out for its residential programs, Carney said. It was also suggested to limit the number of people in the houses at one time.
“We strongly advised them in keeping with the directives from the federal government,” Carney said. “If they had a bunch of students in one of these fraternity or sorority houses, they would be in violation of the order to not have large groups of people in one place.”
For the three houses that remain open, Carney said there are very few students living in them, so they can still practice social distancing.
Carney said IU does not handle payments for the greek houses. He said reimbursements would be handled by the respective organizations.
Amy Makota, house director of Sigma Kappa, said the decision to close the house was made when IU closed the dorms.
She said the Dean of Students Office provided Sigma Kappa's staff with excellent guidance on how to make their own decisions on what was best for their house.
After IU switched to online classes permanently, Makota said she let members come back over spring break in a structured schedule to get their belongings out of their rooms. Some of them chose to wait until the end of the semester to move out.
“Having them come back in as quickly as I could arrange a very controlled, staggered and healthy schedule was very important to us,” Makota said. “We wanted them, in a time of uprootedness, to have the most basic things that they own to give them control and comfort over what they were going through.”
Makota said she is still employed by Sigma Kappa and is staying in her apartment in the house. She said she is not working as much but she is still overseeing the sorority. Makota said no one else is living in the house and that the house’s kitchen is closed down.
Makota said she was impressed with the mindset of the girls in her sorority as these events unfolded.
“It was a shock for everyone, but they were determined that they would get through this process as positively as they could,” Makota said.
Jessica Ware, Alpha Omicron Pi chapter president, said the house is only open for emergency situations such as a student not having anywhere else to live. She said only a few members are living there.
Ware said her sorority sisters were sad after IU switched to online classes for the remainder of the semester. She said some felt like they were missing out on the college experience, but they understood why it was important.
“The more we stay away from each other, the faster this situation will go away,” Ware said. “I think greek life housing could potentially be a place where the virus could spread quickly.”
Ware said Alpha Omicron Pi’s headquarters determined the students that were living in the house would be reimbursed for an unspecified amount of their room and board bill.
Ware said her sorority will continue with chapter meetings over Zoom starting next week.