Kathryn Tippett was concerned about the future of on-campus extracurriculars.
“You take a Zoom course, and everyone has their camera and mics off. You’re not with other people and it’s lonesome – especially with the on-campus activities,” says the UC San Diego sophomore Biology major. “My main community on campus is Greek life. Without it, it’s surreal.”
With school-wide and milestone events being cancelled due to the pandemic and lockdowns, Tippett understands the disappointment that comes with it. The vice president of philanthropy for Alpha Epsilon Phi, Tippett had to cancel their big philanthropic event. Heartbroken by this, she joked with her roommate that she would create her own online sorority.
Running with the joke, she posted her idea on the popular Facebook group Zoom Memes for Self Quaranteens, coining her new founded sorority, “Zeta Omicron Omicron Mu.” She asked anyone interested in joining to message her.
“It kind of blew up,” Tippet says. “People were messaging me and were serious…. I woke up the next morning, not even 24 hours later, with 4,200 members and a New York Times reporter had tweeted about it.”
Two weeks later, the page had more than 11,000 members. Simulating a real sorority, Zeta Mu elected an executive board, planned a slew of (online) social events, and did big/little pairings (a common sorority mentoring program that pairs older members with younger members). Carrying over her title from Alpha Epsilon Phi, Tippet was electedVP of philanthropy.
Zeta Mu’s philanthropy of choice is COVID-19 relief and research, and they have already raised $613 by selling t-shirts, hoodies, stickers, flags, and graduation stoles. In order to benefit more than just those who live in the United States, Zeta Mu chose to donate to the World Health Organization.
The day Tippett created the Zeta Mu page, a member messaged her with the idea to do big/little pairings – Tippett put her to work right away. A form was posted on the page for those to fill out if they were interested in getting a big or little, and by the time the form had closed, they had received over 1,300 responses. Usually during big/little week, the big goes all out to spoil the little by decorating their dorm and giving them presents. Although big/little week now can’t be done the conventional, bigs were still able to spoil their littles by making playlists, digital artwork, and even creating a whole Instagram account dedicated to how much they love their little.
“Every family has something in common and it was up to each family to figure out what it was,” said Tippett, whose family commonality was going to raves. “I thought that it was really cute finding people from all over the country who have something in common with me who I otherwise probably would have never interacted with in my entire life.”
“It’s been a lot of innovation to try and adapt to an online world,” Tippett says, “but I’d say we’re doing a pretty good job of simulating what it’s like to be in a Greek organization.”