WEB EXCLUSIVE: Sigma Alpha Epsilon plans to reopen house by May

More than three months after D.C. officials condemned the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity house, members say the house is on track to reopen by May, after the national fraternity and alumni members donated $500,000 for renovations.

Jared Reiss, a member of Sigma Alpha Epsilon and former chapter president, said the fraternity expects construction to start this semester and to finish before summer begins.

District officials condemned the house located at 2034 G St. in August, citing a lack of a hardwired smoke detector system and other violations.

Twelve members who expected to live in the house this year were forced to find immediate housing alternatives for the school year, said fraternity member Andrew Hopkins, who said he planned to living in the house this year.

It’s hard enough to get through classes, without having (to find) a bed to sleep in and a place to do work, Hopkins said.

Although the fraternity’s house will remain closed for the rest of the academic year, Seth Rosenzweig, the fraternity’s vice president, said he is optimistic about the future.

Rosenzweig said the national fraternity plans give the GW chapter, Washington City Rho, more than $500,000 to renovate the house.

Our national fraternity, as well as our alumni have come through in force to support our brotherhood and to ensure (Sigma Alpha Epsilon) is at 2034 G Street in the years to come, Reiss said. The entire structure of the house is being renovated.

Renovations include new plumbing in every room, high-speed internet connections, cable throughout the house and new bathrooms, he said.

In the meantime, Sigma Alpha Epsilon members said they have been forced to adapt to life without their house.

There’s no common place for brothers to hang out, senior Dan Selig said. He said the fraternity now holds meetings in members’ apartments and other common areas.

Fraternity member Heith Hanson said the absence of the house has not adversely affected the fraternity.

This is still our central meeting place, he said. Just like when we lived here, people still hang out in the front yard.

Hopkins compared the situation of Sigma Alpha Epsilon members with that of freshmen who were forced to live in study lounges. He said GW accepted applications to the residence halls from the fraternity members, but no room opened for three weeks.

The earliest anyone moved (into the residence halls) was the end of September, Hopkins said.

Devin Aberwitz, who found housing Oct. 18, was the last Sigma Alpha Epsilon member to find a place to stay, Hopkins said. He said seven fraternity members moved into apartments in Colombia Plaza and three moved into residence halls.

But not everyone in the fraternity has found a bed of their own. Hanson said some members were sill sleeping on couches in their friends’ apartments.

Pledge and brotherhood events are held at private homes and clubs, Hanson said.

-Russ Rizzo contributed to this report.

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