If you ask members of Greek organizations where exactly their dues go, they may say to social events, for meals at the house or to their national organizations. What they may not know is that a portion of their dues, directly or indirectly, may be donated to political campaigns or used to lobby for legislation.
Political action committees, usually referred to as PACs, are organizations that raise money privately with the goal of influencing elections or legislation. The Fraternity and Sorority Political Action Committee, also known as “Frat PAC,” lobbies for the interests of Greek organizations by supporting alumni campaigns and legislation that maintains the Greek culture and system.
As a super PAC, the fraternity and sorority committee is able to accept and spend an unlimited amount of money to influence elections.
“Fraternity and Sorority PAC exists to aid federal Congressional candidates who support policies that defend and enhance the fraternal experience for today’s college students. We are bipartisan and consider only issues that are unique to the undergraduate fraternity and sorority experience: preserving freedom of association, ending hazing and providing safe and affordable housing,” FSPAC President Andrea Bechtel said.
The FSPAC claims to be “truly bipartisan” despite having contributed more to Republicans in every election cycle except 2008.
According to Opensecrets.org, the FSPAC raised $1,050,975 in the 2019-2020 election cycle, with 52.28% of that going to Republican candidates. In 2018, 60% of FSPAC money went to Republicans while 40% went to Democrats.
For the 2022 election cycle, a total of $742,774 was raised and $784,341 spent, with 47.53% going to Democrats and 52.47% going to Republicans.
“No student dues are being used to provide direct support to any candidate,” Bechtel said. “Only personal money contributed by individuals can be used to give direct support to political candidates. By law, corporate/organizational contributions go to an account separate from individual donors.”
Despite this, a large portion of fraternity and sorority member dues go to the housing corporations that manage on-campus housing for the chapters, and the primary corporate donations to FSPAC come from the housing corporations that are funded by member dues, per the FSPAC website. Additionally, members of the executive boards for the national headquarters of these Greek organizations, whose salaries are partly made up of member dues, are frequent donors to FSPAC.
“Contributions to the FSPAC are overwhelmingly personal donations from individual fraternity and sorority alumni. Donations from national fraternities and sororities are rare — only a handful have occurred during the time current Ole Miss students have been on campus,” Bechtel said.
In 2020, the Sigma Chi Fraternity national organization donated $5,000 to FSPAC. The Phi Delta Theta Fraternity national organization donated $5,500 in the same year. Neither chapter at the University of Mississippi responded to The Daily Mississippian’s request for comment.
Many members of Greek organizations at Ole Miss want to see their dues go elsewhere.
“I don’t think this should even be a possibility. I don’t think Greek life has any correlation with politics,” Sarah Fortin, a junior communication sciences and disorders major and member of the Mississippi Beta chapter of Pi Beta Phi, said.
In 2020, the Pi Beta Phi Fraternity for Women national organization donated $2,500 to FSPAC. The University of Mississippi chapter of Pi Beta Phi declined to comment.
Hayden Pierce, a junior international studies major and member of the Beta Beta chapter of Beta Theta Pi, commented on the lack of transparency and the chapter members’ right to decide where their dues go.
“Members do not know whose campaigns the PAC is funding and why. These are decisions I feel that Greek members should have more of a say in,” Pierce said.
Many students feel the primary purpose of Greek organizations is to contribute to philanthropic efforts and strengthen the core values in their members, not influence national politics.
“The purpose of Greek life is not to sponsor political parties or candidates. Any donated money from a fraternity or sorority should be going to philanthropic organizations,” Martha Nichols, a junior political science major and member of the Nu Beta chapter of Alpha Omicron Pi, said.