Despite being moved to an online format, last week’s Meet the Greeks week held by the National Pan Hellenic Council had a bigger turnout than previous years.
Candace Bolden stepped into her role as NPHC president in April. She had to adapt quickly to figure out with the rest of the executive board how they could hold their most important week of their year online.
“The hardest part is, of course, that people want to see their friends,” Bolden said. “People want to be in person. Part of our initiative to keep campus safe, so we decided to put our whole week on Zoom.”
A main goal of the week is to create a sense of unity and community among NPHC organizations, a difficult thing to do without in person interaction.
“I’m thinking about all of the students that have come to campus who were super excited to attend the university, and it was just kind of a stun moment when they found out that things were going to be different,” Bolden said.
Because Meet the Greeks was online, the executive board did not expect the turnout they received last week. Boldin said that at least 200 people attended via Zoom for every event.
“When it’s in person, sometimes there are people who are in class or can’t make it,” Boldin said. “When it’s on Zoom, they’re able to get out of class and jump in at whatever time without having to be limited by space. People are able to share those intimate moments in their own home.”
Meet the Greek week began on Sunday with the Divine 9 Jams, an event that focused this year on the issue of mental health in the African American community.
On Monday, the NPHC held a joint interest meeting with the UM Black Coalition. An education webinar slotted for Tuesday was cancelled, but is currently being rescheduled for an upcoming date within the next two weeks, according to Bolden.
NPHC held one of its most important events, Greek Forum, on Wednesday. The day serves as the main intake process for non-Greek affiliates looking to enter NPHC organizations.
Cameron Brown, NPHC vice president of finance and the president of Kappa Alpha Psi, said Meet the Greeks Week is the most important week of the year for NPHC financially. At least 90% of the board’s funding comes from Greek Forum alone. This regular event paired with the boost in attendance is expected to be a big help for the board financially.
Among a week of bright spots, there approached an unavoidable hurdle of technical difficulties for the NPHC.
“I’m not going to say it was unbearable, but sometimes it was bad,” Brown said. “A couple times during the Greek Forum, the guest speaker’s (connection) went out. He talked for 40 minutes, and I think for 10 of those minutes he went out, and no one could hear him.”
Though technical difficulties were present in various degrees through each event, it was clear that they would not be a hindrance as the week progressed. Thursday’s talent show proved this, as up to 300 people joined to watch the virtual event.
“I honestly feel if we had that same event in the union ballroom, like we would have if we were permitted to, we probably wouldn’t have had 200 people,” Brown said.
Lon’ Tayshia Gibson, President of Alpha Kappa Alpha and Vice President of Planning for the NPHC executive board, attributes some of the success to the accessibility of the online format.
“We had people from all over the state, or even the country that were tuning in and supporting the ones in the talent show,” Gibson said. “It became easier for us to get more publicity and more people interacting with us.”