For some Greeks, housing can present a dilemma
Some students decide to break leases and commit to living in chapter house
March 18, 2013, 11:05 pm·
Each spring, freshmen and sophomores who join fraternities and sororities are faced with the question of whether or not they are going to live in their chapter houses for the next school year.
In some cases, there is the perfect number of spaces in the house for the number of students who want to live there. However, in most cases, the Greek organization’s house either has too many or too few spaces relative to the number of students who want to live there.
In the former case, the fraternity or sorority might ask its members to consider living in the house. If there aren’t enough people who respond, the organization may then choose to compel its new members to leave current living arrangements to live in the house.
Larger problems arise when students who have already decided on living arrangements are pressured or forced to change their arrangements.
“My office is aware of occasional situations in which freshmen break a lease or take the buy-out option in order to live in a chapter house, but we are not directly involved in those decisions,” said Scott Reikofski, director of the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Affairs.
One College freshman, who asked to remain anonymous because of regulations in her sorority against speaking about the issue, had originally made plans to live with five of her good friends in an apartment at Hamilton Court. However, her organization needed more girls to live in the house and gave her an ultimatum.
She had to decide whether to maintain her current arrangements — for which she had already signed a contract — and have to drop her place in the sorority or whether to break her lease with Hamilton Court and commit to living in the chapter house.
The sorority used a lottery system to select the girls who would be forced to live in the house, according to the student. The girl did not want to leave her current arrangements, which were more affordable. Ultimately, though, she decided to break her lease. However, she was able to find a replacement to fill her spot and avoid any fees associated with breaking the contract.
A College sophomore, who was in a similar predicament, had made arrangements in the fall of 2012 to live in a house on 42nd Street with his best friends. After joining a fraternity, he was influenced by older members to leave his group of friends and commit to live in the chapter house because they needed to fill the house.
“I had reservations about leaving the house because he was one of my good friends, [and] the house was very nice and the rent was cheap,” explained the sophomore.
The combination of pressure from his fraternity and members in his pledge class convinced him to switch his plans.
“In the end however, living in the [fraternity] house was a once in a lifetime experience that I thought would be best for me,” he said.
Off-campus apartment buildings have to deal with this issue every year.
“Each year, there is a significant number of residents who choose to have a new person fulfill their lease obligation for a variety of reasons,” said Rachel Kihn, vice president of marketing at the Radian. “We have standard policies in place for the process.”
“They will pay a fee of 85 percent of one month’s rent as a fee for our management to find a replacement,” Kihn added. “If the resident finds their own replacement, the fee is $200.”
Hamilton Court faces similar situations.
“To the best of our knowledge, this year we had three individuals that opted out for this reason; all were in multi-resident apartments, and all found replacements without delay,” said senior operations manager Bill Groves from University City Housing, which manages Hamilton Court..
Most students ultimately end up finding eligible replacements in order to avoid or minimize any fees.
Off-campus apartment buildings and renters still prefer that students decide on their living for the following school year definitively before signing a contract.
“We strongly encourage prospective residents to not sign lease contracts unless they are certain they intend to fulfill the contract,” Groves added.