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Penn State Students Establish First-Ever Virtual Sorority

Now that Zoom happy hours and niche PowerPoint nights have become routine, virtual interaction has transformed into the new norm. After coming to this realization, a group of Penn State students observed the extreme disconnect between online students and Greek Life.

In an effort to make sisterhood accessible to many more women, Zeta Mu Phi, the world’s first-ever virtual sorority, is being offered exclusively at Penn State.

In the summer of 2019, Jona Hall, Zeta Mu Phi’s founder and a Penn State World Campus student, said she couldn’t shake the idea that mothers, servicewomen, full-time workers, online, and World Campus students were working tirelessly to obtain their degrees without the chance to experience the social and philanthropic dynamics of traditional Greek Life.

Fast-forward to fall 2020, Hall has made her mission a reality, as Zeta Mu Phi is officially recognized by Penn State World Campus as a service sorority and has a sisterhood of 25 women. In addition to full-time workers, mothers, and servicewomen, there are sisters in the Middle East, Illinois, and Oregon.

“Zeta’s purpose is to help lead the new generation of women with equality, kindness, support and acceptance through numerous ways including giving back to our communities, PSU and Thorn, encouraging diversity, ensuring educational developments, exemplifying excellence, providing support and appreciating sisterhood with the utmost loyalty and respect,” Hall said.

Zeta is not currently recognized by the National Panhellenic Council, but it’s working toward that goal in addition to expanding to other universities. Zeta wants to keep all traditional sorority dynamics but move them virtually.

Recruitment for fall 2020 was very casual, according to Hall, but current sisters are working to revamp rush to make it as exciting as possible.

Zeta plans to balance formal and informal recruitment to get a sense of who each individual is and hold recruitment periods before the fall and spring semester. All Penn State students, whether World Campus, fully online, or physically at University Park, are encouraged to attend virtual rush.

Hall values the busy schedules of her sisters and uses that information to craft a long-term tentative schedule for official business meetings and activities. The semester schedule is released in August and January to cover the entire school year to give the members plenty of time to review and coordinate their schedules.

Members have the option to meet their virtual sisters face-to-face twice per year during Homecoming Week and spring break.

Zeta’s national philanthropy is Thorn, a non-profit organization founded by Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore dedicated to fighting human trafficking. During November, Zeta hosts physical and virtual fundraisers for a large donation around Thanksgiving.

Additionally, sisters are involved with THON during the spring semester, as well as their local communities. September was Act of Kindness month, and each sister did at least one act of kindness within their own community, ranging from donating items to animal shelters to creating a free library. Their efforts even reached Los Angeles and Thailand.

When the sisterhood began, each founding officer chose one symbol that was important to them, as well as a symbol they would want the organization to represent.  Zeta’s colors are turquoise and white (representing loyalty and safety), the jewel is peridot (strength), the flower is peony (good fortune), and the mascot is a Phoenix (rebirth).

“Zeta Mu Phi to me means second chances and giving strong women the opportunity to be involved with Greek life,” Hall said. “Since starting the organization, I’ve received so many responses, such as, ‘I never knew this would be possible for me,’ or, ‘Thank you so much for creating this.’ It’s a great feeling.”

Interested students can fill out an online form on Zeta Mu Phi’s website and an officer will follow-up as soon as possible. Updates on Thorn fundraisers and other opportunities are frequently posted on the website and on Instagram.

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About the Author

Colleen Nersten

Colleen is a washed-up biology grad and former associate editor. Her legacy will live on through stories like “10 Questions With State College Sensation ‘Hot UPS Bae’”. If you’re a STEM girlie, this is your sign to take the leap of faith and learn to write. It’s pretty fun. Colleen misses the hate mail and can be reached at [email protected] or via LinkedIn.

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