The slowly recovering economy still has everyone watching their wallet, and members of the University of Miami’s Greek community are no exception.
Although recruitment numbers are up this year, Greeks have been taking extra steps to cope with the recession.
Several measurable effects reveal the extent to which the recession has impacted Greek life at UM, which is rooted in members’ abilities to contribute fees and raise funds.
Events, materials and efforts made by fraternities and sororities are possible through the flow of money, most of which comes from membership dues.
“We have more girls on payment plans [for membership dues] than we have had the past couple semesters,” said Ashley Somers, treasurer of Sigma Delta Tau.
Ethan Alpern, president of the Interfraternity Council and a member of Phi Delta Theta, agreed that paying dues has become more difficult, but has not necessarily resulting in reduced membership. He said that a lot of students have been getting part-time jobs to help pay for dues.
The amount paid in dues varies among the different Greek chapters. A Zeta Beta Tau brother living outside the fraternity house at UM pays $800 per semester in dues, whereas a Sigma Alpha Epsilon brother pays $480 a semester. Living in a fraternity house increases costs.
“All of our brothers have been able to pay dues for our chapter, but it has not been as easy,” said Justin Williams, a member of Kappa Alpha Psi and treasurer of the National Panhellenic Council, an umbrella organization for historically black fraternities and sororities. “More leniency has been given to pay dues a little later than what was expected.”
Greek members agree that fundraising has also been significantly impacted by the recession. Each fraternity and sorority has a philanthropy event, designating a charity organization for its members to raise and contribute money on behalf of.
“The biggest hit was to philanthropy events,” Alpern said. “We try to get sponsorships for larger events but, with the recession, it has been more difficult, so we are not able to make as much money for philanthropies, since it costs more of our money to put on the events.”
Although fundraising has become more difficult, it has not been impossible.
“We have been able to still hold our traditional flagship events as we have in the past. We unfortunately have had to reduce spending in places like food and decorations to make up for lack of fundraising ability,” Williams said.
In response to the economic climate, Greeks have taken measures to reduce and mitigate the effects of the recession.
“We are more conscious as a chapter. Our executive board has already been told how serious and finalized their budgets are. As the treasurer, I am definitely taking a more conservative approach to spending our money,” Somers said.
The Interfraternity Council is in the process of creating a scholarship system to help prospective fraternity members that are facing monetary issues. Alpern explained that his executive board and scholarship chairman are formalizing the scholarship, which will either give three $500 grants or one $1500 grant to help members pay for their first semester of dues. Individual chapters are also implementing scholarships, Alpern said.
Greek life is elective and necessitates spending some extra money in return for brotherhood or sisterhood.
“There are so many benefits of being a member that students will continue to take the initiative to go Greek,” Alpern said.
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