November 17, 2015

Initiative Aims to Remove Financial Barriers to Greek Rush

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The Panhellenic Council and the Multicultural Greek Letter Council will begin providing subsidies during recruitment next semester to cover initial dues for new members who might otherwise be deterred by the financial burdens of Greek life.

The initiative, which was originally proposed as an amendment to the Panhellenic Council budget and approved in October, will attempt to eliminate the financial barrier that prevents some students from rushing. New members will soon be able to apply for a one time $700 subsidy that will be paid to their chapter, according to Kendall Grant ’16, president of the Panhellenic Council.

By looking through the Panhellenic Council’s budget, Emma Keteltas ’17, vice president of finance for Panhellenic Council, said she was able to find the funds necessary to subsidize new Panhellenic and Multicultural Greek letter members.

The MGLC initiative was formed by the executive board and also approved by chapter delegates in October, according to President Andrea Kim ’16.

Students will not have to declare financial need prior to the formal recruitment process, but may be awarded subsidies based on both need and merit after the process concludes. There will be a formal application process to receive these subsidies and all applications will be reviewed by the executive board and the Panhel advisor in the Office of Fraternities, Sororities, and Independent Living, according to Grant.

“We will assess the quality of the application, as it includes a short response section, the student’s academic transcript, and whether or not the student receives financial aid,” Grant said.

Once initial dues are covered, students will be encouraged to look to other sources for financial assistance, such as internal scholarships within sororities, according to Grant.

“In an ideal world, we would have the fiscal capacity to subsidize every semester’s worth of dues per member,” Grant said. “However, we are launching this great initiative to remove the financial barrier of joining the Greek system, which is often the greatest deterrent for potential new members.”

Dues for sororities are high and discourage those with financial limitations from joining, according to Grant. Sororities also often have hidden fines for infractions or misconduct that add up to the cost in addition to dues, apparel and ‘Big-Little Week,’ The Sun previously reported.

While dues usually remain stagnant after new members become officially initiated into their chapter, new member dues are usually the highest costs incurred for members, according to Grant.

“New member dues include fees for initiation and programming. For example, a sorority pin might cost a couple hundred dollars,” Grant said.

While the Interfraternity Council began a similar program last year, Grant and Kim have been working on adding the initiative to their budget since last semester, according to Kim.

“The Tri-Council’s presidents noticed that we emphasize the idea of ‘fraternity and sorority for everyone,’ but wanted to actually act upon this by not having finance be the reason for students not joining a Greek organization,” Kim said.

Following the Panhellenic Council’s approval of the initiative, which was proposed as an amendment to the budget that delegates from Cornell’s 13 chapters voted on, Kim said she worked to incorporate the initiatives to the chapters represented by MGLC.

Members of the Tri-Council have been working on getting an initiative passed to subsidize dues, but have stumbled upon problems in the past, according to Kim.

“The issue we had when sketching this idea was making sure the money goes directly to students’ new member dues, but we had a hard time making sure it didn’t affect their student financial aid,” Kim said.

By alleviating financial burdens, Keteltas said she hopes the initiative will promote diversity within the Greek community.

“We are very excited that this initiative has passed,” Keteltas said. “Issues of diversity and inclusion have long been topics of discussion within Panhellenic, and we are proud that we will be able to affect real change with the creation of this new member dues program.”