A new policy concerning Greek life reserve accounts could be limiting fraternity and sorority spending, according to Residence Hall Association (RHA) President Efraim “EJ” Keisari.
Interfraternity Council (IFC) President David Izbicki wrote in an e-mail to the Wheel
that in the past fraternity chapters have been able to use money from their reserve account funds, but the recent change states that the fund can no longer be used as the chapter sees fit.
The money in the reserve accounts comes from dues that fraternity and sorority members pay at the beginning of each semester.
“First and foremost, the reserve account is for repair and reparation,” Assistant Dean of Campus Life and Director of Sorority and Fraternity Life Victor Felts said.
However, he said, requests for other types of spending will be granted if a fraternity or sorority has a “healthy budget.”
“We see if they have money to spend and if what they’re requesting is reasonable,” Felts said.
Director of Operations for Residence Life and Housing Mary Romestant wrote in an e-mail to the Wheel that these requests are dealt with on a case-by-case basis.
“We will assess the maintenance and capital equipment needs of the houses individually and make decisions on improvements or deferred maintenance,” Romestant wrote, but was unable to comment further due to time.
Keisari wrote in an e-mail to the Wheel
that the goal of Residence Life and Housing’s new approach is to guarantee that fraternity houses are in the best possible condition.
“I do think the fraternities would like to spend the money how they see fit, but there are pressing issues in the houses that must be taken care of and it is [Residence Life and Housing’s] responsibility to ensure the fraternity houses are in working order,” he wrote.
In the past when houses were newer, funds could be used for other amenities, Keisari wrote.
Now that the houses are older, Residence Life and Housing believes the money should be spent on deferred maintenance, which maintains the structural integrity of the house and the security of the residents, according to Keisari.
Phi Delta Theta’s recent request for a $40,000 sound system, which the fraternity planned on paying for from their reserve fund, was denied, Phi Delt president Chris Hintz said.
“According to the University we don’t have any money and so we couldn’t get a system put in. If we do have the money then the University is willing to install the audio system since we will be paying for it,” Hintz said. “Currently we are in the process of trying to figure out what has happened.”
Hintz said that large purchases have always had to be approved by fraternity advisors and the University, but that the fraternities have not had problems in the past, but he has heard that fraternities are potentially being denied purchase requests because of “economic times.”
Keisari wrote that he feels like the problem stems from a disconnect between Residence Life and Housing and Greek life, particularly concerning how money is spent.
He added that this is a problem RHA is working on fixing because fraternities and sororities should be getting more budgetary information.
“We want to make sure fraternities know where the money is being spent and we want to make sure money is being spent responsibly,” he wrote.
RHA is working with both Residence Life and Housing and members of Greek Life to represent all residents and make sure student input is provided, he wrote.
He wrote that the issue is new and neither RHA nor Residence Life and Housing have gotten full details yet.
“We are, as always, fighting for student input on policy changes and we want to make sure that any shifts in policy are made with the students in mind,” Keisari wrote
Currently, Keisari wrote that RHA is communicating with administration and Greek Life to determine what the problem is and that he is looking forward to working with Izbicki on the issue.
Izbicki declined requests for further comments.
“RHA is working with IFC to determine if these policy shifts are an issue that need to be looked at,” Keisari wrote.
If there is a problem, he added, RHA will get to work immediately.
“RHA’s role in this is to ensure the student voice is being heard,” Keisari wrote. “We are working to ensure the fraternities have a voice in the decisions that are made, that they know how their money is being spent and that there is constant communication between administration and residents.”
— Contact Alice Chen