The cost of Greek Life

by Emily Murphy / Beacon Staff • October 4, 2012

Ally greek

Each semester, Greek organizations ask their members to pay a fee. For sophomore Zachary Anderson, the chunk of change didn’t stop him from pledging to the fraternity Sigma Alpha Epsilon one year ago. While SAE’s price tag grants its members access to exclusive events, networking opportunities, and new friends, these dues are something to consider.

According to Anderson, a visual and media arts major and member of SAE, there seems to be a negative connotation surrounding dues for fraternities and sororities.

“People say that you’re paying for your friends, but that’s not really what it’s about,” said Anderson, who is also a member of the Emerson Greek Council and is the Greek Commissioner for the Student Government Association. “We do a lot of good things with the money anyway. It’s not like we’re just blowing it on stuff.”

Abby Peel, a senior journalism major and the vice president of operations for the sorority Alpha Epsilon Phi said that a common misconception is that dues are paid to become a part of the sisterhood.

“It’s not about paying your way into a clique,” she said. “You’re paying for things like our rush T-shirts, our retreat that happens twice a semester, and when we have speakers or events.”

Peel, who could not disclose the exact due amount, also said that members only pay while in school, but they are members for the rest of their lives.

“Larger state schools’ dues can be much more, like into the thousands,” Peel said. “That’s because they’re paying for things like living in sorority houses.”

According to senior marketing communication major and the President of Zeta Phi Eta, Mara Martin, the dues for her co-ed fraternity are $60 per semester. From that, $20 goes to the national branch, $6 goes to council, and the rest goes into its personal treasury.

Nicole Gibson, a sophomore visual and media arts major and a member of Zeta, said that a portion of the money also goes to the Greek Council. The goal of the council is to promote unity among the Greek organizations on campus, prompting them to work together, said Gibson who is the treasurer for the council. Though the organization would ideally have all Greek branches represented, only members from four of the seven fraternities and sororities on campus have joined, Gibson said. 

Like AEPhi, Martin said the local branch of Zeta uses the money from member dues to host social and professional events. For example, they hold “teas” where speakers from different industries are brought in to lecture.

“We look for speakers that will appeal to the college,” Martin said. “For VMA majors, we’ll have someone from TV and film; for WLP majors, we’ll have someone from publishing. Sometimes it will be open to the college, and sometimes it will be Zeta only.”

Gibson said part of their due money goes to the sorority’s national branch.

“There are national groups, and there are local groups,” she said. “If a fraternity is a local branch of a bigger, national group, then part of the dues goes to them.”

Zeta’s national branch, according to Martin, uses dues to fund scholarships for members and alumni based on academic merit and service. It also uses the money toward initiation pins and documents,  which are official certificates that state a recognition of membership.

AEPhi’s national division, on the other hand, uses the dues to maintain its website and host events for current members and alumnae among other things, according to Peel.

Anderson said that most of SAE’s member dues go to the national branch to pay for risk management fees.

“Nationally, there’s a lot of risk management costs,” he said. “Our chapters are wicked responsible, but other chapters aren’t as much, so sometimes we have to pay for legal fees.”

If for some reason a student does not have enough money for dues, Martin said Zeta sets up a payment plan around their needs. 

“We never want money to be an issue because we know that things get expensive, paying for school and books,” she said. “That stuff comes first, so if for some reason you can’t pay by the deadline we have set up, then we’ll start doing smaller installments throughout the semester.”

Anderson said that SAE, along with all other Greek organizations on campus, do not get funding from SGA. However, fraternities and sororities can appeal to get money for legitimate causes, which may include events like fundraisers.

For the local SAE branch, the fraternity holds retreats, philanthropy events, and fundraisers like Miss Emerson with the leftover money, Anderon said. The exact semesterly dues for SAE were not disclosed. However, Anderson said he felt that the fee for joining his fraternity was well worth it.

“No matter what, you always have someone to rely on, a go-to support team,” Anderson said. “You always have someone to chill with. I didn’t necessarily meet my core group of friends [at Emerson] right away, but now I have that, and I’ll have it forever.”