This year, don’t expect the parade of girls down Hill Steet to slow, despite the struggling economy.
Neither the Interfraternity Council nor the Panhellenic Association — the University’s largest Greek councils — have noticed a dip in the number of students interested in joining Greek life in spite of a record unemployment rate in Michigan and economic woes across the country.
Mary Beth Seiler, director of the University’s Office of Greek Life, said Panhel officials were pleased to see the number of potential new members is almost identical to last year’s.
“It was a pleasant surprise for us,” she said.
According to IFC President Ari Parritz, their mass meeting had one of the largest turnouts he has seen in recent years.
“My freshman year, for example, though we weren’t in a big economic crisis, if you want to call it that, we had maybe half to three quarters less people than we had present this year,” he said.
Parritz said an increase in the number of fraternities on campus could be a reason for the higher numbers of participants, since the IFC hasn’t changed any of its advertising tactics.
“We’re fortunate that our numbers continue to grow,” he said, “and that we continue to be an attractive source for students with many people realizing early on that Greek Life is a great way to find your place.”
Parritz said Greek Life officials have been worried about the economic impact on rush for the past couple of years, but their concerns haven’t materialized.
“People were asking about it in the winter and in the year before, but we haven’t noticed any downturn in our numbers,” he said. “The numbers were up in the winter in the height of the crisis and they haven’t shown any sign they’ll go down.”
Seiler said students who are concerned about the costs of rush should consult Panhel’s website where financial information is readily accessible. According to Panhel’s website, sorority dues range from $900 to $2,300 and are decided on an individual chapter basis.
According to a Daily article from Feb. 10, the IFC doesn’t publicly release the cost of rush.
Panhel President Rachael Reeves wrote in an e-mail that she hasn’t received too many questions from potential new members about the costs of joining a sorority.
She added that she thinks many realize it can be a good deal to join the Greek community.
“Sorority dues go toward things such as having a great chef so that you do not have to make your own meals, sisterhood events, and other things that generally really enrich your experience here at U of M,” she wrote in the e-mail.
To alleviate any financial concerns, the two councils do offer scholarship opportunities.
Parritz said the IFC is sponsoring eight new scholarships this year, worth about $1,000 each.
“We recognize the need and the large commitment it takes to become part of the Greek community,” he said. “Since (IFC’s) finances are flexible, instead of creating another program we wanted to give it back to the community into the area that needs it most —which is the new members.”
Reeves said the individual sororities offer many scholarship opportunities to their members once they have joined the sorority. She said Panhel also offers other opportunities like the ones funded by the Junior Panhel fundraiser.
Since the Multicultural Greek Council holds recruitment later in the year, it’s still not clear how the economy will affect rush, Carmen Loo, MGC’s vice president, wrote in an e-mail.
“Students are very worried about their economic situations, especially with the costs of dues and rush,” she wrote in the e-mail. Therefore, “people might be reluctant to go through the recruitment process.”
Loo said new members often ask about the costs of Greek Life during recruitment, but MGC doesn’t have a number to give them most of the time because each house handles their dues differently.
“Each organization works diligently to lower costs by giving out more scholarships,” Loo said. “Many organizations have also increased their fundraising efforts by providing fundraisers and programs that can potentially increase houses’ treasury.”
She added: “MGC organizations especially have been keeping up with scholarship funds and trying to help new members as much as possible.”
Loo said compromises are always being made and MGC hopes the economic situation won’t have a negative impact on its future recruits.