Piazza Center releases results of fraternity and sorority COVID impact survey

September 03, 2020

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — The Timothy J. Piazza Center for Fraternity and Sorority Research and Reform at Penn State has released its first set of aggregate data collected as part of the COVID-19 Fraternity and Sorority Member  Readiness to Return to Campus Survey.

The national survey, which was launched in July, examines fraternity and sorority members’ attitudes about returning to campus amid current public health concerns caused by the global coronavirus pandemic. Developed in cooperation with a multidisciplinary team of consultants and academic professionals, the survey aims to better understand fraternity and sorority members’ thoughts and views on a number of meaningful considerations in an effort to help guide the actions and decisions of chief student affairs officers at colleges and universities.

The initial report is based on anonymous data collected at 13 institutions and provides insight into five unique categories including: respondents’ demographics and living situations; opinions on COVID-19; how students imagine studying and living during the fall semester; thoughts about their fraternity/sorority chapter; and their overall well-being.

While additional data continues to be assessed, the preliminary report includes feedback from a total of 126 chapters; 67 fraternities and 59 sororities spanning across the United States.

Significant findings indicate that a majority of students plan to continue their education during fall 2020, despite feeling directly affected by COVID-19 to some degree. National Pan-Hellenic minority respondents indicate the highest levels of impact. 

While students are generally concerned about COVID-19 for themselves, and particularly for their friends/family and communities, between one-third and one-half still plan to engage in behaviors that will increase the risk of spreading the virus, including hosting parties, holding in-person activities and going to bars. This percentage is reported to be highest among members of Interfraternity Council chapters. Additionally, most students express support for campus contact tracing measures and indicate their willingness to participate in virus testing as well as quarantine/isolation if required.

“This preliminary data showcases that while most fraternity and sorority members are concerned about COVID-19 and intend to comply with campus virus mitigation efforts, the need to limit high-risk social activities may still be a concern,” said Stevan Veldkamp, executive director of the Piazza Center and special assistant to Penn State’s vice president for student affairs. “As we learn more about fraternity and sorority members’ attitudes and motivations, we hope that we can help inform some of the critical decisions and objectives that are facing student affairs administrators and organizational headquarter leaders.”  

The full COVID-19 Fraternity and Sorority Member Readiness to Return to Campus Survey summary report can be accessed at studentaffairs.psu.edu/piazzacenter. The survey is free to access; participation also is available at no cost to institutions in the U.S. with active fraternity and sorority life chapters. Institutions that wish to participate are encouraged to contact Dawn Maynen, Piazza Center project coordinator, at dmm7312@psu.edu. Additional survey updates will be released on an ongoing basis beginning Sept. 7.

Last Updated September 22, 2020