You know what gets my goat: greek mythology

Tyler Lage

I was at one point a mindless hater toward the greek system. It lasted about a semester. Fortunately, during that time I got to know most of the seven members of the greek system with whom I would claim personal friendship.

Motivated by a desire for the truth, I decided to get to the bottom of one of the biggest knocks against their community: Going greek means “buying friends.”

With this task in mind, I asked a fraternity friend to enlighten me as to what the financial conditions were like.

The answer was surprising.

Contradictory to all of the so-called common knowledge and rules-of-thumb, the expense of living in a greek house is comparable to living in the residence halls. In particular, the cost breakdown for an average freshman goes something like this:

  • One-time initiate fees: $490
  • Room and board: $2,850
  • Other dues (chapter and social): $405
  • Total expense per semester: $3,745

My friend compared that to a similar on-campus freshman accommodation. Using a double-occupancy Maple Hall accommodation with a Cyclone-17 meal plan, the price breakdown is as follows:

  • Room (Maple Hall, double occupancy): $2,196.50
  • Board (Cyclone-17): $1,795.50
  • Total expense per semester: $3,992

That is right, ladies and gentlemen. The institution commonly maligned for its superficially motivated cost can actually be cheaper than the on-campus alternative.

When you take into account the fact that nearly $500 of the expenses on the greek side of this comparison are one-time fees, the savings can become even more pronounced. The second-semester version of this comparison would see the greek student save more than $700, or about 20 percent. You can buy a lot of lettered T-shirts and North Face jackets for that kind of change.

With the financial misconception properly torched, the constructive conversation about greek vs. residence hall life can actually begin. Many questions arise to help decide which side of Lincoln Way is right for you.

Do you appreciate autonomy and having maximum control of your time or do you appreciate some structure as a starting point? Do you appreciate a wide range of ages in your place of living, or do you want to live with people your age? Do you have gratuitous amounts of school pride/enthusiasm for Homecoming and Veishea or would you rather get to spend those weeks exactly as you please? Most importantly, can you wear Uggs with shameless abandon?

You can give me a lot of reasons for and against living in the greek system. Whatever you do, don’t tell me that going greek means buying friends.