Some fraternities and sororities on Townhouse Row might soon find themselves without a house.
The current set of leases is set to expire at the end of the spring 2010 semester, and each occupant must reapply next semester with the University to renew their lease. Greek-letter organizations that do not have housing on Townhouse Row can also apply.
The application process will begin in November 2009 and will include a thorough examination of the fraternity or sorority’s achievements and record.
“We want to make sure that the best chapters have housing,” said Tim Miller, executive director of the Student Activities Center.
Robert Chernak, senior vice president for Student and Academic Support Services, said that every chapter that wants a house would be given consideration.
“Renewing the lease is possible, but by no means guaranteed,” Chernak said. “A Greek group that doesn’t have a house might be in a better position to fill it than one that does.”
The Greek Life Chapter Excellence Awards, an annual ceremony which honors Greek accomplishments, consequently plays a major role in the application process. Fraternities and sororities receive awards for community service, chapter development and academic success, among other things.
“It’s a good opportunity to get a close look at everything [the chapters] do,” said Dean Harwood, director of Greek life. “It’s very important.”
Both Harwood and Miller insisted, however, that the size of a chapter was not a significant factor.
“It doesn’t really matter if [the chapter] has 120 people versus 100 people,” Harwood said. He added that the overall quality of a chapter is more important.
Beginning next fall, chapters must make a presentation in front of a panel whose members include representatives from the Inter-Fraternity Council, Multicultural Greek Council and the Panhellenic Association, as well as SAC staff members. During the presentation, chapters must outline a business plan to the panel detailing how they will manage their house.
Miller said this step is essential for chapters that have not previously had a house.
Once a fraternity or sorority obtains a lease, residency is not guaranteed. Harwood said that leases will be terminated if a chapter has “significant behavioral issues” or cannot fill the house.
Miller said that they have never had to take away housing due to either of those reasons.
Although the existing leases have been in place since 2006, Harwood said that he is uncertain how long the next set will be, but it would probably be between two and four years.
Chris Pappas, president of Phi Kappa Psi, a fraternity that had a house on Townhouse Row until 2006, said that not having a house hurts his organization.
He said, “For factors like rush and other events, we have to rely on the University-owned space and book space in the Marvin Center, and most of the time pay to book space for events that are off-campus.”