Several members of Greek-letter organizations in Townhouse Row said they are having trouble meeting occupancy rates for next year, citing high prices, plans to study abroad and other living arrangements as deterrents.
Organizations with houses in Townhouse Row must fill a minimum occupancy requirement, oreither GW will charge the chapters for the empty beds, or members of other Greek-letter organizations will live there.
The University is decreasing the minimum occupancy rate from 95 percent to 93.5 next year as a benefit to the organizations in Townhouse Row, said Courtney Tallman, president of the Panhellenic Association.
But several Greek-letter organizations are beginning to institute policies requiring some members to live in the townhouses next year, students said.
Groups such as the Sigma Kappa and Delta Gamma sororities require all members to live in the townhouse for at least a year. The Alpha Phi and Delta Gamma sororities require chapter leaders to live in the house.
“We’ve had a lot of meetings and e-mails about encouraging people to live in the house,” said Katie Barrios, president of the Alpha Delta Pi sorority. “We tell them it’s a good time and a good way to get involved in the sorority.”
Emily Aaronson, president of Delta Gamma, said members of her sorority will comply with the organization’s request that members fill the house.
“We have a variety of new members and old members who are going to be living (in the townhouse) next year,” she said.
While Alpha Delta Pi members said their officers handled the situation maturely, several members of the Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority said their leaders pressured them to live in Townhouse Row next year. Kappa Kappa Gamma members said their leaders told them last week that they would use a point system measuring a member’s seniority, position in the sorority, participation at events and meeting attendance to determine who will fill the remaining spots.
“I want to be involved in my sorority but not completely immersed in it,” said a Kappa Kappa Gamma member who wished to remain anonymous.
President of Kappa Kappa Gamma Lyndsee Fitzgeorge said the sorority did not implement “forceful measures.”
Robert Chernak, senior vice president for Student and Academic Support Services, said GW cannot control what tactics Greek-letter organizations use to encourage members to live in their townhouses, as long as group leaders are “up-front” about their policies.
He added that while Greek-letter leaders’ policies may work this semester, they could deter potential members from joining the organizations. Students will not want to be “forced to live somewhere they don’t want to live,” he said.
Some student leaders said they have not had problems filling their houses.
Justin Grossman, president of the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity, said his chapter has “just about as many people signed up (to live in the house) as could fit.”
Each group living in Townhouse Row must participate in housing interviews with the Panhellenic Association and the Interfraternity Council to ensure that they have alternate plans in case they can not fill their houses.
“To live in the house is $700 more than living in most expensive residence hall,” said freshman Marni Hahn, a member of the Alpha Phi sorority.
Several rising juniors said they have not signed up to live in Townhouse Row because they plan to study abroad for a semester.
The University currently allows freshmen to live in the houses but announced recently that it will no long enable first-year students to live with their groups.
Junior Dana Rasmussen, president of Alpha Phi, said six freshmen currently live in her sorority house.
“We are lucky to have houses, so at this point we are willing to work with the policy but obviously we would prefer that they would allow freshmen to live in the house,” she said.
Rasmussen said one freshman living in the house holds an executive position, meaning she is required to live in the house and that the new policy will prevent freshmen from holding e-board positions in the future.
Tallman and IFC President Ben Block said they are not aware of problems with filling the houses.
“Freshmen wishing to hold E-board positions wouldn’t be able to in the future because we require them to live in the house … that’s the glitch in the system,” she added.
Chernak said he discussed the option with other administrators. He said they decided against the policy change because second semester freshmen are “vulnerable.”
Tallman and IFC President President Ben Block said they are not aware of problems with filling the townhouses.
-Elizabeth Chernow and Mosheh Oinounou contributed to this report.