Fraternities and sororities that have houses at USF are facing a huge decision this summer: Sign an amendment that would impinge on the privacy of residents or be evicted.
So far, there is about a 50-50 split in the Greek Village. Some of the unsigned organizations say that their plan is to remain unsigned through the Aug. 14 deadline and challenge their eviction in court.
Doesn’t it seem like the university is a little out of line here, unilaterally imposing policies on these organizations? Isn’t at-will police entry to someone’s home contradictory to the Bill of Rights? If you were told that police would be allowed to enter your apartment or house at any time of the day with or without cause, wouldn’t you feel as though your rights were being trampled?
What really amazes me is that some Greek organizations have willingly signed this amendment, known as Amendment 1.
Maybe they did not know what they were signing, or maybe they felt like they did not have a choice.
The only thing worse than taking away a fraternity’s house would be to revoke their charter, thus disbanding the chapter of the fraternity. Tom Kane, director of Residence Services at USF, has said that if Greek organizations do not sign Amendment 1, that their national headquarters will be contacted.
If a fraternity’s national headquarters are notified, a possible consequence could be the revocation of their charter. The University claims that it wants Greek life to thrive, but it is threatening the loss of the organizations’ houses upon refusal to give up privacy and constitutional rights and threatens to “tell on them” to the fraternity national headquarters if the organizations do not sign Amendment 1.
Kane also expressed concern for the safety of students in the Greek Village in relation to underage drinking. Kane feels that Amendment 1 would help the University staff and University Police control this issue.
Mr. Kane, let’s be logical here. If you grant UP access to the Greek houses, would you really expect officers to find students drinking in the common areas? Of course not. They will simply go break the law somewhere else, be it in the bedroom of their house or somewhere off campus.
Tom Crawford, president of Delta Chi fraternity’s Alumni Board of Trustees, says the original lease signed by Greek organizations with USF states that the houses are to be private residences between the hours of 5 p.m. and 9 a.m. This is exactly what this amendment is trying to change.
Speaking of the negotiation for these private hours, Crawford said, “This was done for several reasons, not the least of which is protection of national sorority or fraternity rituals that are observed.” He further said, “It was done for other reasons too, such as to make the houses a little more special, or like a home.” If the Greek organizations specifically negotiated for these special “private hours” in their leases, shouldn’t the removal of these hours be a “re-negotiation” process?
Ray Seaford, legal counsel for the Sigma Alpha Epsilon chapter, said that what the University is doing with Amendment 1 is a far cry from negotiation. “(The University says) listen, if you don’t modify (the lease), it’s not negotiated, but if you don’t, we’ll kick you out. That’s not called negotiating, that’s called extortion. A lot of these fraternities and sororities have put on extra rooms, they’ve put on “activity centers,” and as determined in this lease, if it is terminated, they lose all that.”
When it comes down to it, the most important thing is that we are all Americans, and we all live under the United States Constitution and the attached Bill of Rights, which states that we are to be free from unreasonable searches, but that is exactly what USF’s Amendment 1 wants Greek organizations to submit to.
Mr. Kane, you are the one with the power to change this. So please do Greek life at USF a huge favor and stop this problem before it really starts.
Jason Ross is a junior majoringin mass communications anda member of the Delta Chi fraternity.