COVID-19 took my probate

May 15, 2020

COVID-19 has ravaged the world, leaving many thousands of people sick, unemployed, quarantined or dead.

Everyone across the country is simply trying to survive and create a new normal amid a global pandemic. With this new normal comes new grief of canceled life events: weddings, funerals, birthdays, anniversaries and more. But a specific group of people across the nation is grieving an event that will never be rescheduled: probate.

Every one of the nine historically black fraternities and sororities welcomed new initiates into their organizations this spring, but most were unable to have new initiate presentations, a traditional highlight of spring festivities on college campuses. Six of Claflin’s Black Greek Letter Organizations (BGLOs) welcomed new initiates this semester and had to adapt to national, local and university decisions in light of the pandemic.

After Claflin’s official announcement of the cancellation of all on-campus activities for the rest of the semester, including graduation, some students had to carry the weight of disappointment and survival during this health crisis.

“Missing out on sharing this experience with my line brothers, prophytes, family and friends is really unfortunate because this was supposed to be a day I could always look back to and cherish,” said Brandon Sanders, a senior biology major from Marion and spring 2020 initiate of Gamma Nu Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity Inc.

“As a graduating senior, missing out on the rest of my spring semester was already going to hurt, but being that this is also my last semester as an undergraduate Greek, it hurt even worse.”

The importance of social distancing pushed many across the country to stay home from work and school, and away from most nonessential activities. Most have taken to technology and social media in order to remain connected to  family, friends and colleagues. All members of BGLOs are having to be creative in supporting each other through the digital space.

“Me and my line brothers have a lot of Group FaceTime calls. Even though we all have varying schedules, we always find time to connect with each other. In the midst of the global pandemic, I can say the networking aspect is still present and strong, ” said Isaiah Griffin, a junior marketing major from Brooklyn, N.Y., and spring 2020 initiate of the Delta Alpha Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc.

Since all BGLOs are dedicated to community service, many are having to adapt the way they engage with the community while also meeting the needs of those they serve.

“Many members of my organization ... have taken it upon themselves to raise money to give meals to essential workers in this time in honor of their charter days or their Deltaversary. I have donated or advertised Sorors that have done lunch or meals for essential workers,” said Reagan Hill, a junior biology major from Summerville and spring 2020 initiate of the Gamma Chi Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc.

While this pandemic has created stress and anxiety for many around the world, some students foresee a silver lining for whenever students are allowed back to campus.

“I anticipate that the separation will make all organizations more present. Due to the fact that none of the organizations got the chance to be on the yard, when everyone comes back, we'll all want to make our presence known,” said Folade Oyewole, a sophomore mass communications major from Atlanta and spring 2020 initiate of the Mu Chapter of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority Inc.

While everyone is still trying to adjust to their ever-changing new normal, Joy Leeks, a junior mass communications major from Darlington and spring 2020 initiate of the Theta Chapter of Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority Inc., has advice for other new initiates struggling with being a new Greek and in quarantine.

“I would say to them that this is simply a minor setback. Life will resume to normal soon. Find positive things to think about and do while we are waiting.”

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