If the University decided to force Locust Walk fraternities from their coveted houses, the courts could enter the already-crowded field of groups trying to bring a broader range of residents to center campus. President Sheldon Hackney has said he will not move fraternities off the Walk, arousing the anger of many people who say the it cannot represent a broad enough range of the University community if the chapters remain. But should the president reverse his decision, he would be faced with his biggest battle yet -- not with fraternity members themselves, but with their attorneys. Behind fraternity members' cries of property rights and fairness and their critics' protestations of "we can move them out" stands an inch-and-a-half-thick pile of legal documents which do not even begin to cover the fraternities' agreements with the University, Associate General Counsel Steven Ponskanzer said last month. Of the 10 Walk fraternities located east of the 38th Street bridge, seven are owned by the University. Yet, Ponskanzer said, each has different agreements which govern the use of the houses. Several of the houses have so-called reversionary rights, which require that the University return control of the house to the fraternities' alumni chapter under certain circumstances. These terms vary from house to house and include varying degrees of specificity. He also said agreements with some houses go beyond the written documents, depending also on the precedent of past dealings with the chapters. "There are no easy answers in terms of who controls and who uses houses," Ponskanzer said. IFC President Bret Kinsella said the University would break honorable agreements if it forced the chapters out of their houses. He said if Hackney decides to move the chapters, he must give them something substantial in return. "We're talking about fairness and . . . property rights and about agreements with the University," Kinsella said. "[But] if the University decides it wants to move fraternities from Locust Walk, they may well enter into an agreement that is equitable to both sides." American Civilization doctoral candidate A.T. Miller, who is involved in graduate student government, said last week that the University should not be daunted by legal barriers. He said legal problems did not stop the University from moving fraternities during the 1960s. But many fraternity brothers said these wholesale removal of fraternities in the past set a bad precedent. They say the eviction has left a bitter taste in fraternities' mouths, and should not be repeated on Locust Walk.Comments powered by Disqus
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