The Maroon

End of the Road

A new university rule prohibits off-campus housing for Loyola groups, including fraternities

Ramon Antonio Vargas

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Earlier this semester, Timur Alptunaer left one of his first meetings as president of the Inter-Fraternity Council with some surprising knowledge: The university had adopted a policy that no longer supported off-campus housing for fraternities or any other student organization.

The fact surfaced once Alptunaer voiced Sigma Phi Epsilon’s intention to purchase a property in the area to house the chapter.

“Loyola University New Orleans shall not recognize student organizations that maintain off-campus facilities which are publicly identified or commonly associated with the organization and which the group plans to use for organizational activity,” states the policy.

“It’s coming off as all frats are banned from buying a house because they are typically the ones that have that arrangement,” said Chris Cameron, director of the Office of Co-Curricular Programs.

“But in reality, the chess club couldn’t go off campus and buy their own house and live there.”

The policy for a residentially-based campus is one of the many stipulations the “Pathways” plan implemented at the end of Spring 2006.

“It’s our belief that student organizations have better experiences living on campus than off it,” Cameron added.

“It’s definitely more positive than how fraternities were living.”

Alptunaer, a Sig Ep, disagrees. “(Greek life) won’t be looked at as seriously (as it is at) other big schools like Louisiana State University or Tulane.

“They have big houses where they can hold a lot of social functions and host other organizations, so obviously we can’t be as organized as fraternities at other big schools.”

LEVEL PLAYING FIELD

Alpha Delta Gamma’s residence at 7130 Freret St. burned down in a three-alarm fire still under investigation at dawn on Jan. 11, 2006.

Before the incident, that property (owned by the Crescent City Housing Corporation) was the last Greek house left standing – every other fraternity on campus had sold its property, and the Greek sororities had long since signed an agreement in which no individual sorority would buy a house unless the other three owned one simultaneously, said Julie Walsh, Pan-Hellenic president and accounting senior.

“It was just so no one sorority disadvantaged all the others by being the only one with a house,” Cameron said.

Three months later, the Rev. Kevin Wildes S.J., university president, unveiled the “Pathways” Plan, creating what Cameron called “a level playing field.”

“No other organization had off-campus housing at that point,” he said. “So if we were going to make a change in policy, it was then, and we opted to not support off-campus housing altogether.

“It’s horrible that the ADG house burned down, but under this policy, the university isn’t supporting any re-building effort of that property.”

In the meantime, however, the Office of Co-Curricular Activities didn’t “aggressively communicate” its new stance on housing.

When Alptunaer, psychology pre-med senior, left his meeting with Tom Kupferer, the associate director of the Office of Co-Curricular Activities, who serves as its Greek advisor, he called an alumni spokesman for Sig Ep named Stephen Gele. Gele said the policy was news to him and to James T. Hanlon, president of the board of directors of Sig Ep’s alumni association.

“This was never presented to the Greek alumni board,” Gele said. “We stumbled onto it.”

Alptunaer got word to Sig Ep’s alumni board of directors as they were in the middle of securing a property on which they could house their chapter, an opportunity that comes once every several years because of a city ordinance placing a moratorium on building fraternity houses on properties not zoned for that purpose.

“Basically, unless you get the city council’s vote to do otherwise, you needed to wait until a property zoned for a fraternity house opened up and then buy it for a chapter house,” Gele said.

“You can’t buy any property and use it to build a fraternity house, which makes housing very limited.”

However, their efforts and patience in the light of Loyola’s new policy were for naught.

“I wish Sig Ep had come to our office sooner, and we could’ve said, ‘Don’t bother, we’re not going that way as an institution,'” Cameron said. “The unfortunate part is that they invested so much time into trying to get the house.”

‘AN ADDED BONUS’

Cameron insisted that the new policy can still create an environment in the residential halls “similar to those in fraternity houses,” albeit in other ways.

“If all of Sig Ep came to us and said they wanted to live together, we could make that happen,” he said.

“We could put all of Sig Ep on two floors in a residential hall.”

“I don’t think that would help at all,” Apltunaer said. “It still keeps us under the eye of the school and keeps us from being independent.

“I don’t think it works. A fraternity house is like a home where you can host many events that you can’t on two floors in New Res.”

Either way, prominent members of the Greek fraternities feel that the Pathways-related policy shouldn’t hurt their membership and recruitment numbers. While Sig Ep and its president Rob Josephs, music business junior, might inconveniently lose a small percentage of potential chapter affiliates, Alptunaer said that “the people in a fraternity see them as much more than just a household.”

ADG president John Shalby, management senior, said, “The (lost) house hasn’t played a central role for the fraternity. It’s just an added bonus.”

Ramon Antonio Vargas can be reached at [email protected]

Tara Templeton and Catherine Cotton contributed to this report.

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End of the Road