By Libby Mueller, For The Miami Student
Although Greek life at Miami University offers many benefits to its members, the costs can often add up quickly.
The sorority new member dues for 2014-2015 averaged $640 per semester. For active members, dues averaged $390 per semester. Fraternity new member dues were $530 on average while active members paid around $560 in dues for a semester. However, fraternity housing costs averaged about $2,750 per semester in addition to dues.
The reason most of the sororities' new member dues are more expensive is because they include a pin for initiation, which costs around $100. However, joining a sorority at MU is comparatively cheaper to other schools nationwide, which often cost around $3,000 per year.
Part of the reason for this is the sorority housing situation at Miami. Sorority sisters live in dorm suites as underclassmen and then move off-campus into individual housing arrangements rather than sorority housing.
Vice President of Finance for the Pan-Hellenic Association Amanda Crock said sorority and fraternity dues are used for various purposes.
"Some dues go to the national organizations and some go to Pan-Hellenic," Crock said. "Some will go to the social budget, some to the philanthropy budget. It's really how the sorority budgets it out. Most treasurers are pretty transparent at the beginning with the girls so they're aware."
Dues can also include donations to charity organizations and recruitment. Some sororities will build in the cost of extra t-shirts, like the ones for Greek Week, but according to Crock, t-shirts for other events like Sprite Dates can still add up to a couple hundred dollars a year. Some sororities try to build as many of the extra t-shirt costs as possible into the dues.
Other costs of going Greek can include a fine for missing chapter meetings, although the decision on whether to impose a fine is left up to individual chapters. Crock said most sororities are moving away from it.
"What some sororities do is fine members if you miss a meeting," Crock said. "Other sororities are realizing that that's not really working and they're moving away from the fines because they realize it doesn't work as well."
Instead, the chapters may use a system of negative points that can hurt members' chances of attending certain social events.
Another expensive aspect of Greek life is taking a little. Bigs and littles are part of sororities' mentoring programs where an older member helps a new member settle into her sorority. The crafts, gifts and surprises bigs give to their littles are up to each individual big, but the cost can add up.
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"I can say personally I spent a lot during that week [Big/Little Week]," Crock said. "Crafting every detail kind of adds up. Each girl is responsible for what she gives to her little. It's all about spoiling the little, so it can end up being pricey."
And according to Crock, the costs can end up being too burdensome for some girls.
"Unfortunately, there are times girls have to deactivate because of financial reasons," Crock said. "It's definitely something to consider, but it's also definitely worth it. There are so many positives [to going Greek]."
According to Chi Omega President Charlotte Hult, there is help available for members who are worried about the cost of membership.
"While many sisters are fortunate to have their parents contributing to their sorority dues, we understand that many have on-campus jobs to support themselves," Hult said. "[Also], every semester, Pan-Hellenic offers scholarships to help Greek women cover their dues. Not only are your sisters a support system, but sorority treasurers are very understanding of extenuating circumstances. For example, a sorority, depending on the chapter, can offer the sister a promissory note."
Hult said women can also opt to go on a payment plan and cover their dues in smaller payments throughout the semester.
Laura Atkins is a member of Kappa Kappa Gamma Sorority. She said she has seen girls get frustrated with the costs, but she decided joining a sorority was worth it.
"Some girls wait until the last minute to pay the dues and some girls don't have enough money," Atkins said. "But for me, I had always wanted to be in a sorority. It's a way to make really good friends and have sisters like you've never had before."