Greek residents pay for empty rooms

Stephanie Markham, News Editor

For every unoccupied bed in Greek housing, the remaining residents have to pay an $850 fee to make up for the lost room and board revenue.

Each house has its own occupancy requirements; the average is 36, though the university offers reductions because of low enrollment, bringing the number of required residents in the average house down to 31.

The size of each chapter is larger; the largest is the Sigma Kappa sorority with 89 members, while the smallest is the Sigma Nu fraternity with 45 members, and the average is about 75.

The percentage of members of each chapter who live in their respective houses varies; the highest is the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity with 71 percent of members living in the house, while the smallest is the Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity with 21 percent, and the average is about 50 percent.

Eight of the 15 houses in Greek Court do not meet the university’s required number of residents for the spring 2015 semester, while two meet the number exactly, and four exceed that number.

Those who do not meet the required members must pay a hefty fee.

For example, Lambda Chi Alpha, which currently houses 18 of its 31 required residents, would have to pay $11,050 to make up for the 13-member difference.

Mark Hudson, the director of Housing and Dining, said any house that is alcohol free receives a two-person deduction on their required number of residents.

“It’s been our experience that if they are alcohol free, they make better choices,” Hudson said.

He said all of the sororities on campus are alcohol free, while some of the fraternities are, and this is monitored by Housing staff members who work in the houses and are aware of what goes on in them.

Hudson also said Housing gives the fraternities and sororities financial incentives for meeting or exceeding their residency requirements, which goes toward house renovations.

He also said this year, based on the number of Early Bird contracts the fraternities and sororities got their members to sign, Housing retired the debt they had from previous years.

“A few got close to 30 Early Bird contracts; others chose not to,” he said. “It wiped out an $1,800 debt from the past being under-occupied; others didn’t have debt, so it added to their money for renovations.”

Hudson said the reason fraternities and sororities have to make up for empty beds while those in the residence halls do not is because Housing is in charge of the residence halls, while the chapters are in charge of their houses.

“The residence halls are our responsibility,” Hudson said. “We built these houses for the Greek organizations, so them managing their own occupancy is the trade-off.”

However, some residents of Greek houses do not think the fee is fair.

Anthony Martinez, a member of Sigma Nu, said he does not understand why the residents should have to pay if some members do not feel comfortable living in the house, though the fraternity works around that by being as diverse and welcoming as possible.

“If you’re really accepting and friendly, you’ll have a lot of guys in your house, and you won’t have a fee,” he said.

Matt Jacks, another Sigma Nu member, said he also did not agree with the fee.

“Enrollment is really low; we’re kept at the same standard, but they don’t keep themself at that standard,” Jacks said.

Jacks compared the challenges of Greek residency with the closing of Carman Hall two years ago, adding that the number of students is declining in all areas of the university.

“They already closed the freshman hall,” Jacks said. “Their enrollment is down, why should we have to pay?”

Jacks said the Sigma Nu fraternity got 30 Early Bird contracts from residents, which was the highest number achieved, removing close to $1,800 in debt.

Imani McDaniel, a member of Alpha Sigma Tau, said her sorority does not have many problems with the fee because it has enough members, and she believes sororities have an easier time meeting the resident requirements in general because they have a more formal recruitment.

“There are not very many tiny sororities,” she said.

McDaniel said the Greek residents should not be faulted for low enrollment, as they have to pay the same amount for room and board on top of their chapter dues.

“Eastern’s Greek population is a good size,” she said. “We do a lot for the community with our own money.”

Chaney Thomas, a member of Delta Zeta, said she does not think the fee is fair because some houses are more popular than others, and the smaller ones do not have as much control over their number of members.

“We shouldn’t have to force people to live here just to fill the house,” Thomas said.


Stephanie Markham can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].