Greeks benefit from housing rule

With housing release dates extended, more greeks can decide to live in houses.

Neil Munshi

After three months at the University, Ryan Feia is finally settled.

The first-year student unpacked many items from his former Middlebrook Hall room Tuesday and carried them up to his new second-floor room in the Alpha Tau Omega fraternity house.

Just like Feia, some greek students got out of their residence hall contracts by using Housing and Residential Life’s “quick-release” rule this year to move into their fraternity or sorority houses.

Friday marks the quick-release deadline for students who would like to exit their housing contracts.

Mannix Clark, Housing and Residential Life associate department director, said there has not been enough room for everyone who wants to live on campus. Allowing students out of their contracts helps alleviate the demand, he said.

“When we open in the fall, if we have more people in expanded housing than we can get out by the end of the semester Ö we let students out with basically no questions asked,” Clark said.

This year, there were approximately 450 students in expanded housing.

In past years, officials have allowed students out of their contracts until Oct. 15, Clark said, but demand was so high that they extended it until today.

Usually, 100 to 150 students say they will live on campus and then do not. Clark said that this year, there were only 34.

[Because the residence halls are more crowded this year, housing officials might be more likely to release students who want to move out.]

Some new greek organization members are getting out of their contracts using the new rule, Clark said, but the University does not show any preference to fraternity or sorority members.

Feia said he is happy he has been released from his contract.

Several fraternity members have said it’s been tougher for greeks to get out of their contracts because they were unaware of the process. This summer and fall, greek members and housing officials discussed the concern.

Old problems resulted because the greek community did not know when release deadlines were, said Paul Horner, the Interfraternity Council president and a former employee at The Minnesota Daily.

“The deadlines are still the same Ö (but) greek advisers and ‘res’ life are willing to inform us of the deadlines on a more regular basis,” Horner said.

Christina Magnuson, outgoing Panhellenic Council president, said she does not encourage women to move out of the residence halls early.

“The dorm experience is really invaluable,” she said. “That is where you meet your core group of friends.”

Joe Thiem, Phi Sigma Kappa president, said he tells new members to stay in the residence halls.

“I try to tell them that their dorm experience is more important than their fraternal experience in their first year,” he said.

First-year Alpha Tau Omega member Dave Butler said his fraternity did not force him to move out of Frontier Hall but did promote it “in a way.”

“They told you all the benefits about it, gave us a sheet that showed how much it was – how it was cheaper than the dorms,” he said.

Mike Reynolds, the Alpha Tau Omega vice president, said there are some benefits for new members who want to live in the fraternity house.

“Having them in the house creates a better experience for them,” he said. “If we get their rent money, we have more financial flexibility … “

Feia said he thinks it’s a huge benefit to live in the fraternity house.

“You know, we say, ‘You get out what you put in,’ and if you’re only here two days a week,” members might not get as much out of their experience as if they were there full time, he said.

Students have used several creative ways to exit their contracts, including repeatedly breaking housing policies, some students said.

Those who get out of their contracts for disciplinary reasons are charged for 30 percent of what they would have had to pay for the rest of the year, Clark said.

Clark said students should never sign new leases until they have confirmed with Housing and Residential Life that they have been released from their contracts.