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Three alumni join Board of Trustees
By Hannah Marr, News Editor • June 21, 2024

Greeks to sign 10-year housing agreements

Greek chapters awarded on-campus housing in this spring’s allotment process will sign decade-long leases, a change University administrators hope will spur organizations to invest more time and funds into properties.

Current housing agreements, which were signed in 2009 for three-year leases, will expire this May, and the new leases will go into effect for the majority of GW’s Greek housing options until 2022. Twenty-three chapters lease space on campus this year, 14 of which reside in on-campus townhouses.

The two sorority chapters chosen to live in Strong Hall will sign the extended leases, but assignments in International House will continue to be adjusted year-to-year based on chapter interest. All 14 Greek townhouses will be leased for the 10-year period.

Tim Miller, director of the Center for Student Engagement, said the change in policy seeks to encourage chapters to think long-term about making changes to a residence and to relieve the stress of competing for housing.

In the past, the application process for Greek housing led to “division among the community,” Miller said, as chapters vied for space every three years.

“Now we’re saying, ‘If you treat the house well, it’s yours for 10 years,’ ” Miller said.

Miller, who is also the associate dean of students, said the CSE is still in talks with the University’s office of operations about which additions or adjustments a chapter could make to a GW property. Chapters would fund these changes.

During construction on townhouse row buildings in 2002, Miller said many Greek groups opted to personalize the spaces by incorporating their chapters’ emblems into floor tile designs. He hopes chapters will take advantage of similar opportunities to personalize their residences after signing the extended leases.

Director of GW Housing Programs Seth Weinshel said the University decided to implement the new policy based on discussions with chapter leaders and chapter advisors.

“In the past, we have not removed a chapter unless they had judicial issues or could no longer fill their property. Based on this philosophy, we did not feel it was necessary to go through a long administrative process every other year to renew leases, and we heard from chapter leadership that the process was stressful,” Weinshel said.

Miller said policies for removal from a townhouse will remain the same as in past years.

Kappa Kappa Gamma, Pi Kappa Alpha and Sigma Phi Epsilon were forced to vacate their properties on townhouse row last May, facing charges for hazing and underage alcohol consumption and distribution. Their housing was reassigned.

The timeline for this semester’s application process, which includes a thorough examination of each fraternity or sorority’s achievements and record, has yet to be finalized. Greek-letter organizations that do not have housing on Townhouse Row can also apply.

“We are constantly trying to find space for all chapters that want housing to be able to accommodate that request,” Weinshel said. “We are limited with the number of houses on the row and other row houses that we cannot offer every chapter a house.”

Last October, the Panhellenic Association voted to bring an 11th sorority to campus, an addition that will be finalized this spring. The organization’s president, Marta Cofone, said she does not believe the extended leases will make it more difficult for new chapters to colonize on campus because even under the three-year structure, houses were not given to different chapters unless there were “extreme behavior issues,” and the policy for removal is the same.

Cofone added that the Greek community is “always in the process of trying to find more housing for Greek chapters.”

During Beta Theta Pi’s eight years residing in a townhouse at 22nd and F streets, the fraternity’s president Colin O’Brien said members “have never really done too much to the house to make it our own.”

“Now that we know for certain that we’ll have it until 2022 – barring any unforeseen crisis – we’re definitely going to put some more work into making the place our own,” O’Brien said.

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