After losing half a semester of Greek life at Penn, some fraternities and sororities are offering members a partial refund or credit for their semesterly dues. Others have yet to decide how they will reimburse dues, if at all.
Members of fraternities and sororities are required to pay semesterly dues that fund events such as date nights and formals, Chi Omega President and Nursing junior Sophie Henderson said.
Interfraternity Council President and College junior Louis Galarowicz said most fraternities plan to either refund or credit approximately half of the dues paid this semester. Panhellenic Council President and Wharton junior Sahitya Mandalapu said most Panhellenic sororities are currently working to decide how to reimburse members for dues and the amount of which to do so.
Students said they hope to be refunded for the unused dues. Some would prefer to receive a refund over credit that will be used for next semester's dues, while others say they have no preference.
Associate Vice Provost for Student Affairs Tamara Greenfield King wrote in an emailed statement to The Daily Pennsylvanian that each chapter makes its own decision on dues, and the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life has not made an official recommendation for how chapters should proceed.
“Decisions on chapter dues are made by each organization, and OFSL has encouraged chapters to work with their alumni advisors and headquarters,” Greenfield King wrote.
College junior and Sigma Nu member Owen Voutsinas-Klose said the fraternity will not offer any refunds on dues this semester. Voutsinas-Klose said Sigma Nu leadership told members that the chapter needs to use this semester’s dues to help pay the national organization in order to remain an official chapter of Sigma Nu Fraternity, Inc. Voutsinas-Klose said, however, Sigma Nu is considering offering members credit that can be used for dues next semester.
Wharton and Engineering first-year and Sigma Nu member Intel Chen said the dues do not present a large financial burden for him, but added refunds could be important for some people especially amid the coronavirus pandemic. Chen said he hopes Sigma Nu will offer a refund at some point.
While most fraternities and sororities will work toward partially reimbursing semesterly dues, chapters such as Sigma Nu, Chi Omega, and Sigma Delta Tau will not offer any refunds for yearly dues paid directly to their national organizations. Leadership from these chapters said their national organizations are not offering refunds.
Yearly dues to national organizations allow chapters to be recognized by the national organization, Voutsinas-Klose said.
Henderson said Chi Omega seniors will receive a partial refund of their dues, while students in other grades will either receive credit that can be used for next semester’s dues or a partial refund. Henderson said Chi Omega has not yet decided the monetary amount to refund or credit members.
“People will be receiving money back from programming that we did not get to do this semester, but anything that we had paid for, we can’t return that money,” Henderson said.
College senior and member of Chi Omega Elena Hoffman said she hopes members will be reimbursed for all events, which are funded by dues, that did not take place this semester including formals, date nights, and sisterhood events. Hoffman added that she hopes all members of Chi Omega will receive a partial refund as opposed to credit that must be used for future dues.
"COVID-19 has changed a lot of people's financial situations. Many people, for example, have lost their summer internship offers. Many people's parents might have lost their jobs, and I think that, in general, people would just benefit from having money on hand right now," Hoffman said.
Henderson said students living in the Chi Omega house, which is owned by the University, will receive a housing credit under the same policy as students living in the college houses. Students living in University-owned housing will receive a credit for housing from March 17 through May 15.
Wharton and Engineering sophomore and Sigma Delta Tau Treasurer Phoebe Weiser said Sigma Delta Tau will reimburse seniors $100 and give all other members a $275 credit for next semester’s dues. Weiser said seniors do not pay as much as underclassmen for dues, accounting for the difference in reimbursement.
Engineering junior and Sigma Delta Tau member Ellie Cohen said the reimbursements make up approximately half the semester's dues. Cohen said she believes the sorority's refund policy is reasonable considering that the University required students to move off campus by March 17. She added that she does not mind receiving credit instead of a refund.
“It’s just a very unknown time, so every chapter is figuring it out differently,” Weiser said.
Cohen organized a fundraiser for sorority members to donate money to Sigma Delta Tau graduates from the past five years who are healthcare workers. Cohen said the executive board of Sigma Delta Tau is encouraging seniors to donate their refunds to the fundraiser.
College junior and Delta Tau Delta President Matt Garber said Delta Tau Delta will also offer some refund or credit, but the executive board has not yet decided what the amount will be.
“It’s very organization-based. Everyone’s kind of figuring it out as they go,” Galarowicz said.