Greek housing plan could fuel tensions

By Brandon Scalea

 

University House, which housed the brothers of Sigma Phi Epsilon in previous years, is now also home to Tau Kappa Epsilon, Theta Chi and two multicultural fraternities. Some residents have been vocal about their dissatisfaction with the changes.

Major changes were made to fraternity housing on campus, leaving brothers of all three chapters fuming and wondering why.

In the past, Rider’s Sigma Phi Epsilon (SigEp) chapter lived in the top and middle floors of University House. The brothers of Tau Kappa Epsilon (TKE) occupied Omega House right next door.

Now, with the addition of newly colonized Theta Chi, the three chapters and two smaller multicultural fraternities will live in mixed hallways throughout the two buildings.

Justin DiSciascio, president of Rider’s SigEp chapter, said the news came out of nowhere, and that’s what everyone was most upset about.

“There was no warning about this at all,” he said. “It was 100 percent a big shock.”

Residence Life and Greek Life staff announced the changes to the chapter presidents just a few days after last February’s Bid Day — the day students who go through the recruitment process find out if they get into their preferred fraternity — DiSciascio said.

Micheal Seraphin, assistant director of housing operations, said the university has plans to continue growing Greek life on campus and these changes reflect that. He added that this comes as a result of too many fraternity brothers moving off campus and not filling their designated housing assignments.

“If we have these spaces left open, we can’t do anything about them,” he said. “We can’t put unaffiliated students in them. So what does it look like for the Greek community when we have holes in our Greek housing?”

With the new plan going into effect this year, SigEp will have five rooms on the top floor of University House and TKE will have six rooms at the end of the hall. Theta Chi will occupy most of the middle floor.

In Omega House, Theta Chi and TKE share the top floor and SigEp has most of the middle floor.

DiSciascio said he fears tensions between the chapters might boil over with the close living quarters.

“There’s only three chapters at Rider, so there’s definitely a rivalry there,” he said. “I think tensions between us have gotten better over the years, but I will not be surprised at all if there are issues.”

This was major news of discussion at an open forum last February when the changes were first made public. There was a lot of yelling and cursing, and some fraternity men even stormed out of the room.

Seraphin said he wasn’t surprised by the backlash.

“There was no way chapters weren’t going to feel like they got the short end of the stick here,” he said. “But we can’t say that one chapter is exempt and the other has to deal with this. It was a matter of how to make this work as a whole.”

Seraphin added that the reduced bed spaces actually make it easier for Greek students to get into premium housing, including Moore and West Village apartments. They cannot live anywhere else on campus until every Greek bed space has already been filled.

DiSciascio disagreed. He said the new housing plan actually caused more brothers to move off campus, making it a challenge to fill all of their chapter’s beds.

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