Greek students to support housing bill

Alex Tenenbaum and Sarah Shook will lobby in support of the bill.

Senior English and Political Science major Sarah Shook, left, and Senior Political Science and History major Alex Tenenbaum stand in front of Sigma Chi Fraternity on Monday. They are going to Washington D.C. to lobby a bill that will benefit Greek housing.

Aleutian Calabay

Senior English and Political Science major Sarah Shook, left, and Senior Political Science and History major Alex Tenenbaum stand in front of Sigma Chi Fraternity on Monday. They are going to Washington D.C. to lobby a bill that will benefit Greek housing.

Alex Holmquist

Two University of Minnesota students will fly to Washington, D.C., on Friday to support the Collegiate Housing and Infrastructure Act of 2009, a bill that would allow private donors to make tax-deductible donations to nonprofit student housing entities. Under the current tax code, colleges and universities can receive tax-deductible donations to build and maintain student housing, while nonprofit student housing entities, such as sororities and fraternities, cannot. âÄúIt kind of levels the playing field with University housing,âÄù said Alex Tenenbaum, president of Sigma Chi Fraternity, who will lobby in support of the bill. Sarah Shook, a member of the Delta Gamma Sorority and president-elect of the Minnesota Student Association, will join Tenenbaum in Washington, D.C. Shook and Tenenbaum agree that the bill would benefit sororities and fraternities in several ways. âÄúIt opens up options for private donors who are currently restricted from making tax-deductible donations,âÄù Shook said. Tenenbaum said he thinks the bill would encourage greek alumni to make donations to sororities and fraternities, which would allow for some desperately needed repairs. The Sigma Chi house is currently in need of some of these major repairs, including a leak in its porch that is causing water to accumulate in the foundation. âÄúItâÄôs a bill that makes sense because thereâÄôs a need there,âÄù Tenenbaum said. âÄúItâÄôs going to be an expensive renovation and they have to do it,âÄù he added. Shook said donations generated by the billâÄôs passage may also help sororities and fraternities install additional safety equipment in their houses. Currently, only four of the UniversityâÄôs 11 sorority houses have fire sprinkler systems, and none of the UniversityâÄôs fraternity houses have them. âÄúGuaranteeing that all student housing is safe benefits both our campus and our community,âÄù Shook said. Missy Gettel, chairwoman of the MSA facilities, housing and transit committee, said the bill will also benefit other nonprofit student housing entities, such as student cooperatives. âÄúItâÄôs a way to reduce the cost of living for students in nonprofit-type housing,âÄù Gettel said.