Fraternity closed for violations

by Peter Frost

Like the ancient Parthenon in Athens, Greece, one of the University’s greek landmarks is also falling to pieces.
Minneapolis building inspectors issued Theta Chi fraternity an ultimatum last month: The fraternity must voluntarily close the house by Aug. 31 or the city will condemn it for violating numerous building codes.
A deteriorating exterior along with plumbing and wiring violations contributed to the ordered closing of the tall, ivy-covered, Tudor style building located a block off University Avenue near Williams Arena.
The house was built in the 1920s and has been occupied by the Theta Chi fraternity since then.
“If the building isn’t up to code we can walk right in and condemn it, but many times we try to work out a deal with the property owners so we don’t have to,” said Julie Casey, an inspector for the city of Minneapolis.
In Theta Chi’s case, a deal has been worked out, one that will save them a lot of money and headaches. By closing voluntarily, the fraternity will bypass the fines and loads of paperwork that owners of condemned buildings have to deal with.
Ed Smelser, a CLA senior and rush chairman at the fraternity, is living in the house this summer. He and the 12 or 13 other live-ins have to find a different place to board this fall.
“We were expecting our house to get fixed, just not this soon,” Smelser said. He noted that the fraternity had fair warning about the city’s plans and plenty of time to find another place to live.
The fate of the house rests on whether the fraternity and its alumni can get a loan to finance the remodeling. If they can’t get the loan, or if remodeling turns out to be unaffordable, the fraternity might choose to abandon their long-time home and purchase another property on or near campus.
Fraternity members said they are unsure of the total cost of renovations.
“Our alumni are helping as much as they can, but they have limited resources, too, which makes it hard,” said fraternity secretary Chris Gettler.
“If this loan doesn’t go through and renovations do not take place, the fraternity will seek other options, such as purchasing a new house,” Gettler said.
Smelser and Gettler said they were both confident the loan would go through and that the fraternity house would reopen by Christmas.
For now, the fraternity’s fall activities and events are scheduled to proceed as usual, but will require some driving between the University and the next nearest Theta Chi chapter at Hamline University in St. Paul.
Chapter meetings will take place at Hamline and some of the fraternity’s 20 members will also live at the St. Paul location until the living situation on this campus is ironed out.