Fraternities crack down on robberies

Some fraternities are increasing security measures during the day and at social events to avoid thefts and break-ins.

Sarah Connor

The brothers of Phi Sigma Kappa prepared for a party late last month with their usual precautions — making a list of approved guests allowed to enter their house and designating members to watch the front door.

Still, the party ended with a number of valuables missing from the fraternity.     

The University of Minnesota area typically sees an increase in reports of break-ins and burglaries on and around campus at the start of the fall semester. But some fraternities are taking matters into their own hands by ramping up security precautions during social events to ensure they aren’t future targets.

This semester, there have been three reports of burglaries and one incident of a person breaking a window in fraternity houses during parties.

Ian Ebner, Phi Sigma Kappa’s risk management chair, said the night the house was burglarized, two iPhones were pickpocketed from guests, along with a wallet and a MacBook.

Since then, the fraternity has assigned people to monitor stairwells leading to rooms when they’re hosting an event, he said. Also, it put locks on all room doors and added more security at the front and back doors.

“There was always supposed to be someone on the stairs and someone at the front door,” Ebner said. “But now, we’re having a few extra
precautions, and we’re holding those positions more strictly.”

He also added that the chapter is no longer allowing brothers to bring groups of guests to their rooms during parties.

Other fraternities are taking similar precautions, Ebner said.

Matt Levine, program director for the Office for Fraternity and Sorority Life, said crimes aren’t limited to social events. There may be more concerns about daytime thefts because that’s when houses see a lot of foot traffic, he said.

“When it comes to theft and crime, I worry a lot about daytime,” Levine said. “People are going in and out of the facility a lot for class, and moving into the facilities, so you worry about doors being unlocked or propped open.”

Though the Office for Fraternity and Sorority life is able to offer advice and guidance if crimes occur, Levine said it can’t offer much direct help to fraternities because their chapter houses are not owned and operated by the University.

But he said it’s important for all fraternities to know the typical protocols to ensure parties are safe and well-managed, which include securing entry and exit points, locking up personal spaces and making lists of allowed guests.

Interfraternity Council President Cameron Schilling said though crimes at fraternity houses have not been a major problem historically, chapters occasionally experience troublemakers trying to sneak into the houses.

“Sometimes you do get those people that are just hanging out on the sidewalk and won’t leave,” he said, “or repeatedly trying to get into a party when we don’t want them there or they’re not on the list.”

Schilling said in those cases, fraternity members typically flag down University police officers that patrol University Avenue on weekend nights.

Though fraternity houses may be an easier target to burglarize due to their large square footage, Schilling said he thinks chapters are capable of keeping incidents to a minimum with the right security measures.

“Each chapter takes on the responsibility of making sure parties are safe and no unwanted guests get in the house,” he said. “And I think fraternities generally do a pretty good job of protecting their own chapters.”