The Case Against the Worst Phrase in Greek Life: "You're Paying For Friends"
Joining a Sorority is NOT "Paying for Friends"
If you're thinking about joining a sorority, some people may tell you that joining a sorority is just "buying friends." Not so! That phrase drives sorority members CRAZY and it’s so inaccurate. I don’t know why it's been attached to greek life in particular and not all the other clubs it could apply as well.
Many endeavors in life include connecting with other human beings through a membership system. Most organizations that provide fellowship need to charge dues to operate their club or team. Sororities are no different! Someone has to pay for the functioning of the group. The concept of joining a collection of members, and paying dues in a “society” or “association,” is as old as time. Greek life should not be singled out as odd in this regard.
Sorority membership involves lots of events, materials, meetings, socials, housing, meals, trips, clothing, gifts, jewelry and other expenses that must be paid for somehow. Like any other active organization, a member is paying for the ‘necessities’ and 'benefits,' not just for meeting new friends to hang out with. Relationships are formed through participation, just like belonging to a wine club, or a softball team.
If someone you know criticizes sorority life with the “paying for friends” cliche - counter with some of the activites THEY participate in. Ask them if they are also “paying for friends” when they do things with their own organizations. Most people can’t help but belong to a few associations and they end up making friends there.
Other Organizations Involve Money + Plus Friends Too!
- Paying for Church Friends: If someone is a church member and contributes to the collection plate every Sunday, then they are “paying” for church friends, dinners, choir, education program, staff, maintenance and other social activities in addition to religious instruction.
- Paying for Community Friends: If a person belongs to the Junior League, National Charity League, hospital support group, children’s museum guild, environmental club, humane society, Rotary club, or any other local club where they pay dues and socialize with other people while volunteering, then they are “paying” for friends in the community.
- Paying for Sports Friends: If someone joins a gym, swim team, cheerleading squad, competitive volleyball team, dance studio, or any other type of paid athletic endeavor - and they make friends while exercising or competing - then they're “paying” for sports related friendships.
- Paying for Professional Friends: If person joins a professional organization related to their career, use a job networking system, is active in an alumnae group, joins a career guild, or chamber of commerce in order to meet people, further their career and enjoy activites with fellow professionals, then they are “paying” for social and professional advancement and better business relationships.
- Paying for Recreational Friends: If someone pays to join a golf club, racquet club, beach club, resort club, dining club, wine club, foodie club, book club, quilting club, travel club or any other group dedicated to leisure activites and fun, then they're “paying” for the pleasure of meeting people who also enjoy the same hobbies and pursuits.
- Paying for Romantic Friends: If a person uses an online dating service, attends singles events, hangs out in a bar eating and drinking while hoping to meet someone, or takes a date out to dinner and the movies, then they are “paying” for making a romantic connection. It may seem crude, but even love has a financial component.
When all is said and done...... Why join a sailing club when you can go boating by yourself? Why join weekly dining club when you eat alone? Aren’t you just paying for friends with the same hobbies and special interests? Almost everything humans get involved with - that also have dues attached - can be called “paying for friends.” Clubs, societies and teams are the same as sororities in this regard.
Yes it's possible to exist with no memberships in any organizations. You can randomly meet people through attending classes, (which students are paying for), working, and doing things independently. For some people that’s enough. But others prefer group activites and seek additional opportunities to meet like-minded friends. There’s nothing wrong with that. Sorority life helps so many girls find success and camaraderie away from home. And as many sorority sisters say “If I’m paying for friends, then I’m not paying enough!”