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Wine bar on 2200 Penn opens doors
By Ella Mitchell, Contributing News Editor • June 14, 2024

Greek orgs hit with hefty housing bill

At least three Greek-letter groups living in University-owned townhouses were charged more than $10,000 each on Monday for failing to fill their houses during the summer, two Greek-letter presidents confirmed on Wednesday.

Part of the organizations’ housing agreements with the University stipulates that Greek-letter organizations that occupy University-owned townhouses must fill 95 percent of the space year-round. If the number of beds occupied falls below that percentage, the fraternity or sorority owes the difference, according to the contract.

Greek-letter groups who do not pay these charges in full will be unable to reapply for a University-owned townhouse when contracts expire this year, one president – who was granted anonymity for fear of retribution – said.

Dean Harwood, director of Greek-letter life, declined to comment on the issue.

The policy requiring organizations to fill University-owned townhouses to 95 percent capacity is not new, but this was the first year many Greek-letter groups received a bill for the unoccupied space, said Chas Pressner, president of the Interfraternity Council.

Greek-letter groups will meet with Harwood and Student and Academic Support Services leaders on Monday to discuss issues with these charges, Senior Vice President for SASS Robert Chernak said.

“There’s always mitigating circumstances that sometimes have to be taken into account,” Chernak said, adding that the poor economic climate made it difficult for many Greek-letter groups to fill summer housing this year. “I think that sometimes thinking through the issues and having a face-to-face dialogue allows for opportunity to figure out what the best solution is.”

Chernak added that Greek-letter groups will not lose their housing mid-year if these charges aren’t immediately paid.

“I don’t think the University sent a bill collector in conjunction with sending out the bills,” Chernak said. “It wasn’t like someone was here from the collection agency saying ‘Hey, you gotta get out of your house if you don’t pay the bill.’ So if I understand the situation, the bills reflected the amounts that would be due under the current contractual obligations that each of those organizations had. “

Pressner said filling townhouses during the year is not an issue for Greek-letter groups, but has traditionally been difficult during the summer when most members of Greek-letter chapters go home.

Chapters are often forced to look for non-members to occupy the space over the summer, he said, but certain obstacles prevent these groups from acquiring the number of occupants needed to meet its contractual obligations.

“What [the University charges] for townhouse row is the same that they charge for Ivory Tower,” Pressner said of summer housing. “In Ivory Tower, four people share a kitchen, and two people share a bathroom. In Townhouse Row, 24 people share a kitchen, and four people share one bathroom and they charge the same amount of money.Would you rather pay to live with four other people over in Ivory Tower or pay for a townhouse for another Greek organization you don’t know, and share with a lot more people?”

Panhellenic Association President Sarah Sutton said it is unfortunate that Greek-letter groups got charged for unfilled space over the summer, but added these charges should not have come as a surprise to Greek-letter groups, as these stipulations were clearly listed in townhouse contracts.

Sutton added that townhouse contracts are being renegotiated this year, and groups who had problems filling their townhouses might be put at a disadvantage when it comes time to renew contracts.

“Chi Omega is now one of the largest organizations on campus and I’m pretty sure they can fill [a townhouse],” Sutton said. “So you know, when you look at the renewal of housing applications next year, it’s up for grabs for anyone basically, so your history as far as your ability to fill those houses is kind of important.”

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