New PHC president-elect promotes financial transparency program at UMN

The National Panhellenic Conference made a financial transparency program to retain more new Greek members previously deterred by unexpected costs.

PHC President Kaela Juarez speaks to the Minnesota Daily on Friday, Nov. 17.

Ananya Mishra

PHC President Kaela Juarez speaks to the Minnesota Daily on Friday, Nov. 17.

Kayla Song

The Panhellenic Council instated a financial transparency program this fall to make it clear what costs prospective University of Minnesota sorority members would have to pay before joining.

Kaela Juarez, PHC president-elect for the University, ran her campaign on the importance of financial transparency, an initiative created by the National Panhellenic Conference.

Juarez said participating in the pilot program will help the PHC in “making sure that people wanting to enter into our community feel welcome and that they’re not in the dark” when it comes to finances.

About 900 women signed up for recruitment this fall, Juarez said. After the first day, about 200 to 250 women left recruitment, and after the second day, when finances were discussed, another 100 to 200 women left.

Costs for each organization used to be listed in brochures passed out during recruitment week house tours. 

However, potential members were not allowed to take the brochures home, leaving any reference to financial requirements inside the sorority houses once they left. 

After women joined the Greek community and got involved, they were given the bill. According to Juarez, some girls had to drop their membership because they couldn’t afford it.

From t-shirts to house fees, the program requires each PHC organization to outline everything a new member would have to pay to become initiated, said Sandy Burba, Finance Chairman of the national-level NPC.

“Going into it, I wasn’t sure how much it would cost exactly,” said Claire Doty, computer science and strategic communications first-year and member of Delta Gamma. “The financial transparency sheet, especially early on in recruitment, was really helpful to have a better estimate of what my budget would need to be and how much each sorority would cost.”

Room, board and membership fees cost an average of $3,600 to $4,700 a semester for women living in a sorority house. For members not living in a sorority house, the range is $750 to $1,500 a semester. 

The University is one of 13 colleges to pilot a financial transparency program within the PHC in hopes to increase retention rates in sorority organizations.

Billy Langer, newly-elected president for the University’s IFC, said they do not have a comparable financial transparency program.

NPC’s board of directors developed the program in May 2015, when they heard reports of confusion regarding sorority membership expenses, said Dani Weatherford, the national-level Panhellenic Conference Executive Director.

“We wanted to make sure that we were being very transparent and that it was easy to know in advance what we were going to be asking from them,” Weatherford said.