SigEp to remain houseless
Published: Tuesday, September 4, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, September 4, 2012 08:09
The brothers of Tufts’ chapter of Sigma Phi Epsilon (SigEp) will remain without a house for at least another semester because the fraternity was unable to find the required number of brothers willing to transfer to a house from on-campus housing.
The Office of Residential Life and Learning (ResLife) in early July offered the house at 92 Professors Row to the fraternity for the year. The house formerly belonged to the Sigma Nu fraternity, which will not be returning to campus for the 2012-2013 academic year, according to Director of Fraternity and Sorority Affairs Su McGlone.
McGlone said that she contacted the SigEp fraternity members in early July, offering the group the Professors Row house for a year if it could come up with 10 brothers to fill the 10 beds available in the building. ResLife hoped to free up that number of beds on campus because of a housing shortage in undergraduate dormitories, McGlone explained.
After SigEp leaders produced a list of ten brothers, McGlone clarified that all the brothers had to be signed up for on-campus housing, but SigEp came up with only six brothers who fell into that category, according to SigEp President Michael McCarthy.
The offer was then rescinded three weeks after the initial proposal because they could not fill those four extra beds, McCarthy, a senior, said.
“We were a little disappointed by that because the university claims to value Greek life, and from our standpoint it seems like they chose four extra beds for undergraduates as opposed to 40 juniors and seniors who had been here and done philanthropy and had high GPAs to remain in Greek life,” junior Stephen Ruggiero, a brother, said. “It’s tough to ask brothers to leave a highly coveted on-campus house or room to move into a fraternity house which we don’t even know will belong to us yet.”
The house at 92 Professors Row will instead be temporarily converted into transfer student housing, McGlone said.
SigEp has gone without an official house on campus since a group of senior brothers inflicted significant damage to its previous 114 Curtis St. residence during Senior Week in May 2011, according to McCarthy. The group has since paid off all of the debt for the damage caused, but the company that owns the house, Walnut Hill Properties, refused to keep the lease with the brothers.
“We basically did what the university asked of us to get into good standing with them, because they understood that the kids who were still here were not the ones responsible,” Ruggiero said.
Ruggiero said that many brothers were disappointed the deal did not work out and that having a house greatly improves a fraternity’s social presence on campus, especially in terms of recruitment.
“What freshman wants to rush or pledge a fraternity or sorority without a house?” he said. “It’s something visible, something people can see. It’s our own, it’s a place for us to go and it kind of defines who you are.”
Because the lack of a house led to low recruitment numbers last year, almost all of SigEp’s brothers are upperclassmen who naturally would have less interaction with freshmen than sophomores would have with first-years, Ruggiero added.
Following the revocation of the housing offer, SigEp brothers, alumni and parents of brothers sent emails to various members of the administration voicing their need for a house and general love for the fraternity, according to Ruggiero.
Though the email campaign was not successful in overturning the decision, McGlone said that the great sense of brotherhood that those emails displayed reinforces her opinion that SigEp does not need a house to succeed on campus.
“The energy behind their emails, the energy behind why SigEp is important to them and how it has helped to shape their Tufts experiences, none of that had to do with the house,” she said. “It had to do with the fact that they’re a group of brothers who have shared values, and those values have helped them conduct themselves in the rest of their lives at Tufts. If they can take that energy and really drive home with that, I think they’re going to be really successful.”
McCarthy remains optimistic about the group’s chances for a house and believes that the setbacks may benefit the fraternity in the long run.
“You sort of have to be optimistic in this situation,” he said. “I think that even though this has been a pretty big negative for us, it also presents us with an opportunity to recruit brothers who really want to be involved in Sigma Phi Epsilon not necessarily because we have a house, but because they want to be a part of the brotherhood and all of the good things that we’re doing. We very well could come out of it stronger than we entered it.”