New Changes to Cut Greek Housing Costs

Frat House

The Office of Residence Life and Housing will work more closely with Greek chapters next year to cut the costs of empty beds, clamp down on housing process deadlines and reduce behavioral issues related to non-member residents in chapter houses, according to ResLife Assistant Director of Operations Jeff Tate.

While continuing to parallel the Phoenix Plan, the housing system guaranteeing fraternities long-term housing through signed agreements, the recently updated the ResLife housing policy requires each chapter to maintain 100 percent occupancy of their designated houses each year.

“Right now, there are between 25 and 30 vacancies across fraternity and sorority houses — 25 spaces chapters have to pay for,” Tate said, adding that some groups pay more than $800 more for such vacancies. “We don’t want to make it any more expensive for people to live on campus.”

The new process described by the updated policy also requires non-members who wish to live in a chapter house to submit requests individually to ResLife via email.

In addition, the chapter must submit a request to place the individual on its roster and include “how this non-member will contribute to the communal nature of the facility,” according to the first section of the policy.

Though Tate pointed out that “the whole point” of a fraternity house is to foster closeness in each chapter by allowing new and upperclassman members to live together, he cited a rare exception.

If a new member, for instance, wanted to live with his freshman year roommate, who planned to rush in fall 2014 and could not participate in rush this year because of academic pressures, finances or some other reason, the request may be granted, according to Tate.

“It becomes difficult when only 25 of the 40 guys living in the house are chapter members,” he said. “We’ve definitely seen some poor behavior in non-members living in chapter houses in the past.”

Interfraternity Council President (IFC) President Brian Diener wrote in an email to the Wheel that the policy’s emphasis on limiting non-members in chapter houses would make the residences “actually feel like homes” and “not just places to host a party.”

“We have had a few issues with non-members living in fraternity houses who were not treating the houses or fraternity members living in them with the respect they deserved,” Diener wrote.

He added that while the IFC judicial process and individual fraternity judicial processes allow the Greek community to hold members accountable for their actions, the same is “not possible with non-Greek students living in houses.”

Aside from the restriction of non-members living in chapter residences, the updated policy focused on the issue of chapters and individuals meeting housing process deadlines.

The timeline stretches from November, when ResLife will provide house rosters and room usage information to each chapter, to just after spring break, when ResLife will request a final roster from each house.

In between, chapters must request occupancy changes, housing applications must be completed and first, second and third versions of house rosters must be submitted by precise dates specified early in the fall semester.

During the course of the general timeframe described by the policy, “[ResLife] maintains the option to sanction, amend or suspend any chapter’s housing privileges” if deadlines for lists of eligible members, house rosters or applications are not submitted by the given due dates, the policy states.

Some of these sanctions include housing probation, sanctions on social privileges or even housing suspension, in which ResLife may remove the chapter from its current residence.

Another less-severe feature of the new ResLife policy requires several chapter members to serve as “standby” residents in the event that one or more members may choose during the summer not to live in the house for the following academic year.

“One chapter had a member who got married — you can get out of the [Greek housing] contract if you get married and want to live with your spouse,” Tate said. “Our hope is to get five [standby residents], though some may only have two or three to fill those spots.”

Overall, however, Tate’s biggest concern is a financial one.

“We need to have the ability to redo carpets and paint walls,” he said. “We have to work to contain costs — it’s financially in everyone’s best interests.”

— By Lydia O’Neal