Fraternity suspensions overcrowd housing
Published: Tuesday, September 11, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, September 11, 2012 01:09
An influx of 34 sophomore Phi Kappa Tau and Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity members into the Miami University housing system, resulting from summary suspensions issued by the university Aug. 23, has further hampered an already overcrowded housing system.
Because Miami’s housing is at 103 percent capacity, resident assistants (RAs) have housed 13 fraternity members in their rooms, according to the Director of Housing Options, Meals and Events (HOME), Brian Woodruff. Woodruff said the RAs are receiving a $200 stipend per week for taking on a roommate, which was done on a voluntary basis.
Woodruff said HOME communicated the new fraternity member living assignments to hall directors and hall advisors, and they communicated these assignments to their RAs.
“[The RAs] had all been prepared and informed that they may be receiving another roommate,” Woodruff said. “That was because a residence life staff [member] spoke with them and shared the information about what would be happening with the fraternity men.”
However, according to one junior RA who asked not to be named for this article and who volunteered during the summer to take a roommate due to Miami’s housing shortage, he was “forced” to accept a sophomore fraternity member two weeks ago.
“I was told by my supervisor literally the night before my current roommate moved in that I would be getting another roommate,” the junior RA said. “Part of the reason why I was so distraught over the decision of housing to put someone in my room was that I was never, ever contacted.”
Neither the “Job Description for Resident Assistant” nor the “Resident Assistant Position Terms of Employment 2012-2013” documents detail the university policy for contacting RAs about taking on roommates should there be overcrowding in the housing system.
A sophomore RA, who also asked to remain anonymous for this article, was one of the 13 who took on a fraternity member as a roommate.
“I wouldn’t say it was like [Miami] forced it down our throats, but just the way they approached [me, they said]: ‘We were told your name is on the list of RAs [to contact]; you’ll find out who is getting placed [in your room] later this week,’” the resident assistant said.
He also said he and other RAs felt the way the university phrased the request was unfair and that no next steps nor timeline were given, other than the new roommate would remain in the room until the investigation was complete.
Depending on the results of the investigations, fraternity members could remain on campus for two weeks to several months, according to Woodruff.
The $200 weekly RA stipend is funded through the office of Housing, Dining, Recreation & Business Services (HDRBS). The stipend was determined at a meeting between the Director of the Office of Residence Life (ORL), Jerry Olson and HDRBS and later approved by the university. Olson said this seemed like reasonable compensation.
According to Olson, in 2009 some RAs received a stipend for volunteering to take on roommates due to overcrowding in the university housing system. However, Olson said the determination of what was done was not absolutely based on what happened in 2009.
“We felt there was a need to compensate the RAs in some way,” Olson said.
In addition to the 13 fraternity members who have been placed with RAs in upperclassmen halls, seven have been placed in permanent rooms and 14 have been placed in an “extended housing space,” which is a single large space, according to Woodruff.
“The extended housing is adapted space that has been used in the past in a lower-level of a residence hall for male students,” Claire Wagner, associate director of University Communications and Marketing, said.
Wagner also said the housing is intended to be temporary and said since the fraternity investigations are still underway, the fraternity members’ move to campus is not permanent.
The Office of Ethics and Student Conflict Resolution will determine whether each fraternity will receive a permanent suspension.
According to Susan Vaughn, the director of Ethics and Student Conflict Resolution, the university investigation is complete, but final university action will not be administered until the appeals process is complete, which could take up to one month.
At the beginning of the year, the sophomore and junior RA each agreed to take a roommate.
The junior RA said he hesitated when HOME and ORL, which oversees all resident assistants, first emailed 177 of Miami’s 217 RAs in July. The remaining 40 RAs were not contacted since their rooms could not accommodate two people, according to Olson.
The email offered the RAs a $200 weekly stipend and asked them to take on roommates, due to what was believed to be an impending housing crisis resulting from the largest first-year class in Miami history, the junior RA said.