This is the ninth in a multi-part tale of my experience with Greek life and sororities. This is not meant to offend, put down, or upset anyone about being in a sorority or being Greek (I was one too!). It is just my recount of how I became Greek, what happened once I became Greek, and how I ended my affiliation. Please do not take this offensively in any way.
Those that are in my chapter who were present during this time may not want to read this. Please do not send me hate mail or comments, for this is my opinion and my side of the story and it’s only fair that I present it as I saw it.
In January 2008, I returned to my normal “active” status as a member of my sorority. The first Sunday evening in January after school started was chapter. In the beginning of every semester, the treasurer presents the budget for that semester. She explains how much money is budgeted for socials, for formal, for sisterhood events, and so fourth for the entire chapter and also how much it breaks down per girl. Then at the bottom, it’s all added up and shows the total amount needed for the sorority divided by the number of active members that semester (those not on special or associate status as previously mentioned) and then you have your dues for that semester.
As mentioned before, the first semester a girl pledges a sorority is always the most expensive. There are a lot of one-time fees that girls must pay to join that they will honestly never pay again. Those fees on top of the already-pledged, initiated active members’ dues put my pledging semester at over $1000. However, the next semester, after initiation, was about $450. This is actually reasonable for someone who was, in the beginning, splitting her dues with her parents half and half. The next semester was about $575, then $600. These were still reasonable for me because at the maximum I was paying my portion of $300, which was easily attainable through the payment plans worked out with the treasurer.
I have never been someone who was “handed” everything in life. Most things that I’ve acquired, I’ve earned on my own. Most things that I’ve wanted, I’ve had to pay for on my own. My parents agreed to pay the first semester of dues for my sorority because they knew how badly I wanted it, and then agreed to split the rest of the semesters with me because they felt that I should be paying for at least part of my social life. I agreed, but then when the dues started to get higher, they told me that it was now up to me to pay my whole semester’s dues on my own.
At the time, I was making, no joke, $8.50 an hour as an assistant manager at Panera Bread. I was working, as previously mentioned, close to 40 hours per week and some weeks even more than that. I had also continued my internship for the second consecutive semester, which took away time from work as well. The little money I did make immediately went to credit card payments, gas, and the occasional dinner out.
I worked during the week on days I didn’t have school, I worked on the weekends, and I taught the new member class for the entire central Florida area every Saturday morning. I hardly time for my friends as I was constantly at work and certainly had no time for activities in my sorority. I felt like at that point I would be paying for something that I wasn’t even able to go to any of the events, because I was always working so I could afford to pay my dues.
Then, it happened. The budget, explained.
And I kid you not, the treasurer stood before the chapter giving a PowerPoint presentation that explained that the dues for this semester were now over $800 because “there has to be a cushion for girls that don’t pay.” And that cushion broken down to each girl (who actually pays their dues)? $200. EACH.
I remember sitting in my chair enraged. Pissed. Boiling. On the verge of screaming. Was she even allowed to say that? “To pay for girls who don’t pay?” I wanted to leave, right then. I was busting my butt at work, full-time, taking full-time classes whose grades were taking a serious nose dive, to now pay for something that I couldn’t even go to, and now had to cover out of my own pocket someone else who is getting away with going to everything and not paying a dime? She had to be kidding.
But she wasn’t.
I went to work the next day and I remember I was standing near the espresso machine watching everyone work diligently through our lunch rush. I paused for a second and thought, almost with no hesitation, “that’s it. I’m resigning.”
So I went home and I wrote my letter. I was mad at what this organization had become and it showed in my letter. I knew full well that this letter was going to be read by the Vice President of Standards (who was a soft-spoken, short, red-headed sweet girl) aloud to the whole chapter and that the chapter would then vote on my resignation. Usually resignation letters that were read aloud were from girls who were hardly known in the chapter, hadn’t been around long, or perhaps had just been initiated and decided it wasn’t for them. But I was known in the chapter, I had been around for two years, and was proud of my initiation and chapter. I had grown to become best friends with my chapter’s President, and after a year of searching, finally found my “close group” within the chapter. (Call it a clique if you want, but these girls were my best friends and my support group!) I was someone who was known. And I was about to write a letter of disappointment, of anger, and of sadness.
But I knew in my heart there was no way I was going to pay for someone who doesn’t pay. That is not fair to someone who works to pay for things themselves. And works hard, long hours, at that. It wasn’t right. It wasn’t fair. And I wanted no part in it.
I had been told by my big sister, that most people who write resignation letters, talk with advisors and the advisors work with them to get them to stay in the sorority. They usually do not want to see someone leave and will do “almost anything” to keep a girl in, especially one that’s been around for so long. But I guess I wasn’t that girl they wanted to keep. I guess since I wasn’t “popular” or “an amazing girl” as they would call some girls, or since I wasn’t a member of council, I wasn’t worth saving. The advisor emailed me back and said, “we hate to see you go, but good luck in your life.”
I got smart with her and responded with, “If I could become one of those girls that gets to stay in the sorority and not pay, then please sign me up for that. Because I can’t afford this.”
Maybe I shouldn’t have said that to her, but I was upset. How could someone stay in an organization and not be reprimanded for not paying, and to top it all off, have other girls who do pay, willingly or unwillingly pay a huge portion of their dues? And get away with it? It didn’t make sense to me and it still, to this day, doesn’t make sense.
When someone submits a resignation letter, they of course are not required to go to events or chapter after the letter is received. They also are not present when the letter is read aloud to the chapter. I heard that on that Sunday night when my letter was read to the entire sorority, girls were stunned. They couldn’t believe it was me who wrote it. They couldn’t believe I was resigning. And one girl even asked aloud, “what happens if we don’t have a majority vote to approve the resignation?”
The VP of Standards answered, “then we vote again.”
They wound up approving my resignation and I was done. I received (and still do receive) mixed emotions from my sisters regarding my decision to resign. Some girls were mad, de-friended me on Facebook, and wouldn’t speak to me if they saw me on campus. Some who saw me around were angry when they saw me, “How could do that? How could you say that in your letter? During a new member period? What were you thinking?”
My response? “I was speaking the truth. I cannot physically pay for someone else who doesn’t pay.”
Coming up: the last part in this tale, fast forwarding to now. My thoughts, my feelings, and my look on it now, almost three years later.