Amid bid day and the start of the new member season, it's time to talk about everyone's favorite subject: dues. As far as you're probably concerned, they serve no purpose other than to drain your bank account and allow your classmates to not-so-subtly whisper "She's in Greek life so she's paying for her friends" behind your back. Yes, Greek life is expensive, and yes, we are technically paying to be surrounded by and engage with a group of similarly-minded women, but paying dues and being a part of an organization is so much more than that.
Every high school senior dreams of going off to college for independence, freedom, and the ability to hang out with their friends wherever and whenever they want. The problem is, for many people (including me), that last part is not necessarily guaranteed. College is not a fairy tale. Your freshman roommate will not always become your best friend and your floor mates will not always become the ones to replace the friend group that you left at home. For some people, navigating the hallowed halls of a university for the first time is doubly as terrifying, because they have to do it alone. And that's where Greek life comes in.
There's this subconscious notion within society that there is safety in numbers. Part of the reason why Greek life is so appealing to people is that they know they will be gaining lifelong friends, a group of sisters that are always there for support, and a place to call home, when for some, their real home may be many miles away. But at what price?
I cannot speak for every organization, but my dues go towards a wide variety of things. They go towards our nationals, they contribute towards supplies needed for our philanthropic and fundraising events, they pay for our officers to attend workshops that help them (and, subsequently, us) to grow as leaders, and they contribute to a few new t-shirts a semester so that we can appear unified and presentable as an organization (and who doesn't love new clothes?). The price and allocation of dues may vary greatly for each organization, so don't be afraid to ask questions about what exactly you will be paying for. No one likes getting hit with a giant bill at the end of the semester with no way to pay for it.
It is important to note, however, that many Greek life members are able to pay their dues on their own, either by holding an on-campus job or using the money saved up from a summer job. If you are really interested in joining Greek life but absolutely cannot afford dues, feel free to reach out to your potential chapter's president, treasurer, or even membership recruitment director before or during rush. Most likely, they will be able to work out some kind of payment plan for you, or you may be able to obtain a special considerations status. Your new sisters will be just as excited for you to join their organization as you are to join them, and they should be more than happy to sit down and have this conversation with you.
So you just survived the whirlwind of recruitment, were just able to scrape together the last of your allowance and summer camp money to pay for your dues, and now you're anxiously awaiting the start of a new journey with your sisters. But the real question is, will it be worth it?
My phone is currently filled with pictures from past chapter events; I will go home later tonight to the apartment that I share with two of my sisters, and next year, to a house that I will share with four more. I can name at least three sisters off the top of my head that I know I can always go to for advice, and as I'm writing this, I am sitting across from a sister, doing homework in the library.
The money that I have paid for these friendships and experiences is trivial. Ultimately, when you join Greek life, you are paying to be a part of something that is deeply rooted in history and tradition. You are paying as a way to promise to live by the same standards of the group of women who founded your organization long ago, for a very unique and special purpose. You are paying to be surrounded by a group of women who take these same values to heart, and wish to use them to learn, lead, and grow both together and for others in need.
So yes, to some, I am paying for my friends. But to me, I am paying for an opportunity unlike any other.
Lead Image Credit: Metro-Goldwyn-Meyer