Respecting the housing code

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The Alpha Chi Omega house is one of nine Greek Life homes on Marquette’s campus. This is the newest home to be purchased on campus by a fraternity or sorority. Photo by Brittany McGrail /

Housing codes, university policies and making sure everyone does their part when it comes to cleaning and paying rent are some of the things Greek Life members have to deal with when living in their organization’s house.

The nine Greek-affiliated houses on campus are a combination of rented and owned, and each sorority and fraternity on campus has various member requirements to live in the respective houses.

Each Greek Life house must first adhere to the Milwaukee housing codes.

In all residential districts, a house that holds eight or more people has an occupancy classification of being a commercial building. For fraternities and sororities, houses have “special use” classification. When organizations want to purchase a new house, they have to go to the Board of Zoning Appeals and express how they plan to use the building.

“They want to know how they are going to use it,” said Nick Curich, a plan examiner in the Department of City Development. “They want to know there aren’t going to be keggers every week.”

In addition, Curich said commercial buildings must have a designer look them over to make sure they meet housing codes. If the building does not, a price estimate is given to the buyer to tell them how to fix it.

“It applies most to fire alarms, smoke detectors, fire extinguishers and fire exits,” Curich said.

According to Sigma Phi Delta fraternity President Daniel Zachacki, the organization rents its house from Marquette, making house upkeep partially the university’s responsibility.

“Since Marquette owns the house, they are responsible for any housing code updates,” Zachacki said in an e-mail. “The only money that we need to put aside for the house goes to purchasing simple cleaning supplies and toiletries.”

The households also must abide by the university’s risk management policy.  The 17-page document explicitly details university policy for Greek-affiliated houses, including alcohol possession and event management.

“We ask that they let us know where their house is and that they give us a house roster,” said Corey Lansing, associate dean for student involvement in the Office of Student Development.

The risk management policy states Greek parties with unrestricted access to the general public, particularly when alcohol is present, are not allowed. In addition, for each event there must be guest lists and door monitors to check identification cards. For events where alcohol will be present, there must be one sober member to every 15 guests.

Many Greek Life organizations also have internal requirements for living in their houses.

For example, Marquette’s chapter of the Alpha Phi sorority does not allow alcohol to be present in the house, and it has academic requirements for resident members, according to sorority president Lauren Frey, a senior in the College of Business Administration.  The sorority has been renting its house from Cedar Square LLC, a property management company on campus, for five years.

“You have to be in good standing with our organization, meaning a 2.5 (GPA) or higher, be in good financial standing and take positions of leadership,” Frey said in an e-mail.

But different houses mean different rules.

For example, Marquette’s chapter of Triangle, an engineering, architecture and sciences fraternity, has a house manager and a risk manager, according to president Sam Olukotun, a senior in the College of Engineering.

The house manager handles the weekly cleaning assignment policy and lease compliance, while the risk manager focuses on house compliance with the university’s risk management policy, Olukotun said.

Despite all the regulations and responsibilities, many Greek Life members enjoy living in the house for a variety of social and academic reasons.

“Our members have come to view the chapter house as a home away from home,” Olukotun said in an e-mail. “Living in close proximity with one another, sharing a weekly dinner together, walking across the hall at 4 a.m. to ask for help on a homework assignment — these, among other things, help form bonds of trust and amity.”

Article by Marissa Evans

Special to the Tribune

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