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Information on Fraternity Relocation

Letter from the President

As you are aware, it has always been my desire to be open and transparent in our decision-making.  I am writing to provide information regarding the University’s decision and plan regarding the closure of the Fraternity Complex.

First and foremost, UCM values Fraternity and Sorority Life (FSL) and has no plan, intention, or desire to eliminate or remove these important organizations on campus, as has been suggested in the media. The FSL pillars of service, scholarship, leadership and unity align with our university’s campus-wide focus of Learning to a Greater Degree.

Regarding fraternity housing and our closure of the Fraternity Complex facility, I want to give you more information about the steps the University has taken to listen to, include and support our fraternity members in this process.

Background

  • In late 2016, UCM Housing contracted with the Scion Group to explore and report the potential design and feasibility of UCM constructing new fraternity housing.
  • During this process, fraternity member feedback was obtained from focus groups with 79 fraternity members and alumni participating.
  • A survey was also conducted to solicit fraternity member feedback, resulting in 234 responses.
  • The Scion report was received in 2017 and was publicly posted on UCM Housing’s website until summer, 2018.
  • The report provided convincing evidence that building a new complex would not be financially feasible without significant private donations.
  • Based on input received from fraternity alumni, current collegians, and my own observations through a tour of the complex on July 30, 2019, I asked UCM Housing to redevelop a plan for fraternity housing. Five possibilities were available to be considered:  (1) Provide no fraternity or sorority housing; (2) Build new fraternity housing (deemed infeasible based on information from the Scion report); (3) Engage in a public-private partnership with a developer to build new fraternity housing; (4) Renovate the current Fraternity Complex facility; or (5) Repurpose an existing Housing facility.
  • As president, I made a commitment that we would maintain options for fraternities and sororities to live on campus if desired by individual chapters.
  • Despite University efforts, there has been no viable interest from developers to engage in a public-private partnership
  • The cost to renovate the existing Fraternity Complex makes this option financially infeasible if paid from existing university resources.
  • There is current capacity in existing residence halls, leaving this as the best likely alternative to explore.

Initial Plan and Current Circumstance

  • UCM Housing developed a plan to repurpose Fitzgerald Hall for fraternity housing. This plan would allow clearly segmented fraternity living space and individual (and private) chapter rooms.  I endorsed this plan.
  • Renovation of Fitzgerald Hall to segment spaces and create chapter rooms would require closure of Fitzgerald during the 2020-2021 academic year, which would reopen by fall, 2021, for fraternity housing.
  • The Fraternity Complex would close May, 2021.
  • In late October, Housing scheduled a meeting with fraternity chapter presidents for Sunday evening, November 10, to allow me to relay this plan to current collegians.
  • In early November, elements of our primary heating system for the Fraternity Complex failed. Over the course of a week, UCM FPO and an external contractor attempted to determine the cause of failure, cost to repair, and length of time to repair.  The short response:  it would be costly and require a lengthy period of time.
  • Because we would not be able to maintain adequate temperatures in the facility during sustained cold temperatures, and with the sudden onset of cold temperatures, we decided it necessary to relocate the 54 residents of the Complex prior to the end of the semester.
  • Given the timing of this decision and with Housing concurrently developing a residency plan for the men housed at the Complex, I decided to inform the fraternity chapters’ leaders during the already scheduled November 10 meeting. All but one fraternity chapter sent representatives to this meeting.  Chapter representatives were allowed to ask questions to Housing staff, Vice President of Student Experience and Engagement Shari Bax, and me during this meeting, which lasted for approximately an hour.
  • Immediately following this meeting, Housing sent an email to all Complex residents to provide them notice of the concern with heating and to provide an initial plan for moving residents this week.
  • More generally, fraternities have not been required to live in the Fraternity Complex. For this academic year, among fraternities that are members of the Interfraternity Council at UCM, two chapters have off-campus houses, two chapters have no designated house/residence (on or off campus), and seven chapters opted to occupy the Fraternity Complex.

Relocations Logistics

  • All chapter moves to designated locations will be completed by Sunday evening, November 17. Residents were allowed to move when desired beginning at 5:00 p.m. Tuesday (November 12), and UCM has offered a box truck with driver for Saturday (November 16) to facilitate moving personal belongings.
  • Members of each chapter were provided spaces that allowed them to remain together to support chapter unity in the new residence hall locations.
  • Floor meetings are scheduled for 9 p.m. in Fitzgerald Hall and 9:30 p.m. in Ellis Hall on Sunday, November 17, to meet the staff and to review important relevant information.
  • Information has been shared with fraternity members about on-going Fraternity Complex access for Chapter Rooms.

Recent discussions and questions have mentioned mold in the residence halls, and I would like to clarify our usual response related to reports of mold. Whenever we are contacted about a possible mold issue, the university looks into it, and if believed necessary, a third party conducts testing. The university responds to each individual situation as warranted.  The university is often contacted about possible mold and finds that the report is are unfounded or that there is no health or safety issue. The vast majority of mold or substances which may appear to be mold (but are not) on campus can be rectified or avoided with ordinary cleaning and upkeep of individual residence hall rooms.

As indicated, I provide this letter to you to ensure you are more fully informed regarding the decision to close the Fraternity Complex.  Should you have questions, or should you wish to see any of the communications sent to current collegians or alumni fraternity representatives regarding this matter, please let me know.

Thanks,

-Roger

 

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