Letter to the Editor: Unfounded accusations

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October 21, 2010

11:53 PM

A recent editorial in The Flat Hat entitled “College should grant new housing to deserving organizations,” by Cristina Marcos opens with the assertive line: “the idea that the fraternities should get new housing is preposterous.” What I find preposterous is both the inaccuracies of Ms. Marcos’s piece’s and the fact that the editorial board of The Flat Hat would publish such a piece based on such glaringly false premises. She asserts that the “new complex would look several decades older within a year,” a claim lacking any evidence or intuitive justification. There is no reason to believe that solidly constructed buildings would be damaged that easily. She then laments the plight of students who will have to live in the Fraternity Complex after the fraternities move into new housing. However, several students already live in units previously occupied by fraternities, and the school refurbished and cleaned the units, including painting over murals, before the students moved in. There is no reason to believe that the future will be any different. She points to foreign language houses as examples of appropriate special interest housing because they allow students to practice a foreign language and learn about a culture. However, many students in these houses are merely interested in these countries, but do not speak the languages. Many of the students living in these houses choose to do so to avoid housing bumps.

The author argues that fraternities do not need to live together in order to “fulfill their philanthropic goals, which are to develop close relationships with each other and to raise money for charity.” Not only does this demonstrate that the author fails to understand the meaning of philanthropic, which has nothing to do with “developing relationships,” but she also misunderstands the roles and values of fraternities. The purpose of Greek organizations is to foster brotherhood and sisterhood, promote scholarship, develop character and social skills, and to prepare young men and women to be leaders in the larger community, in addition to encouraging philanthropic activity.

The main flaw it the author’s argument is the claim that “if there were maintenance regulations in place that were better enforced, the fraternity members would be more encouraged to keep the residences clean.” This is blatant ignorance of the facts. The Area Director, Shylan Scott, does walk-throughs in the units and assesses fines, and suggests judicial sanctions for damages to the buildings. As a fraternity president who receives weekly emails listing damages, fines and other maintenance regulations, I can confirm that the regulations are both in place and well enforced. While I concede that damages often occur in the units due to actions by fraternity members, all of these actions are subject to the same residence life and student conduct regulations as any other student in any other building.

The author concludes that it is unfair that non-Greek students should have to live in buildings formerly occupied by Greek students. However, many of the complaints about the living conditions of the units have nothing to do with maintenance. For example, because of the construction of the ceilings, which are un-insulated drop-in tiles rather than dry wall, there is no sound insulation between rooms. A movie being watched in one room can often be heard in several other rooms throughout the floor. Other problems include the actual location of the units, the size of rooms and cockroach infestations that seem to resist the best efforts of exterminators. These arguments have been made ad nauseam, and there is no need to remake the case for new fraternity housing. While encouraging future discussion and dissenting opinions, I encourage future writers to base their arguments on fact and reason rather than unsubstantiated accusations and scapegoating.

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