COVID-19 cases up as recruitment progresses

Rohan Goswami, News Editor

Tulane University experienced a rise in COVID-19 cases concurrent with Panhellenic and Interfraternity Council recruitment, reporting 10.5% of tests returning positive, compared to 5.2% on Jan. 25.

Cecilia Hammond

For potential new members of Panhellenic organizations, recruitment began Jan. 19 in a fully virtual environment, before converting to in-person recruitment Jan. 21. 

Nine hundred and seventy individuals registered for Panhellenic recruitment, and 902 appeared for the first day, known as open house. The nearly 1,000 Tulane undergraduates who registered for recruitment was “record-breaking,” Kailin DeLeo, assistant director for fraternity and sorority programs, said.

“When we saw these numbers would be so high and that recruitment participants would be interacting with so many other people,” DeLeo said, “we decided it would be best to convert those first two high-touch rounds to a virtual format.”

Shortly after recruitment concluded, the entire membership of two Panhellenic organizations — Kappa Alpha Theta and Phi Mu — received contact-tracing emails that identified them as close contacts.

DeLeo said that the mass contact-tracing emails were by design.

“Before the beginning of the recruitment process, we submitted all chapter rosters to Campus Health to aid in contact tracing,” DeLeo said. “If someone from an organization tested positive, the entire organization received the contact tracing email as a precaution in case the member who tested positive had been at any of the chapter’s in person recruitment events, including pre-recruitment preparation events.”

Representatives from Tulane University Campus Health were not available for comment.

The university did not opt to reinstitute the stringent testing regimen that defined the 2020-2021 academic year amidst a rise in omicron variant cases, opting instead for random testing within the Tulane community.

Chapters who had reported violations of citywide or Tulane COVID-19 protocols face a minimum of a two-week social probation, DeLeo said.

Two chapters received social sanctions for violating COVID-19 protocols. Administrators did not disclose which organizations were punished.

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