Outside the realm of extensive university funding exists the Greek system. The Greek houses are true homes for many students ““ a place of residence and a group of people that feels like family. Whether you agree that these organizations should be funded entirely by the participants or with assistance from the university, most people would agree joining one can be a costly endeavor.
The main selling point a lot of houses use when justifying funds is: If you live in, it can save you a lot of money. The stereotypes surrounding living in, particularly for fraternity houses, means you’ll scrimp on space and the luxuries of choosing to stay on campus or in your own apartment. Students face complex financial factors when deciding to rush a house.
UCLA students and other groups across the country are currently working to pass the Collegiate Housing and Infrastructure Act, which allows not-for-profit student housing to receive tax-deductible charitable donations. This act would help sorority and fraternity houses raise money for improvements.
At UCLA, our Greek buildings built in the 1930s definitely could stand for some improvements. Many houses, such as the Alpha Phi sorority, have undergone extensive remodel plans in the last few years, which have obvious expenses associated with them. Right now it is difficult for students to bear the burden of such remodels, as joining a house can be already costly for students whose parental financial support may have been dramatically affected.
“There are things I’d like improved about our house. It’s nice for the most part, but there are some decrepit parts,” said Logan Kane, a second-year civil engineering student and member of the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity.
Some fraternities and sororities cannot afford improvements. Though these may not be necessary to keep up to code, they could improve the overall living environment of the house. Currently, 2,200 students at UCLA live in not-for-profit housing, including the cooperative and UCLA Greek housing. This is a sizable amount of people, demonstrating the wide reach of the bill’s aims.
Right now, with much on the minds of policy makers, this bill needs momentum to get attention in Washington, D.C. Our alumnus Congressman Henry Waxman has endorsed the bill, and USAC has done so as well. Students from across the country ““ including University of Minnesota and University of Pittsburgh, and of course UCLA ““ will converge in Washington, D.C., to promote the bill. This type of show of student interest is significant, when many other acts do not have much support or interest from our generation.
This bill is an extremely simple way to help students make ends meet during their college years. Finding a well-paying job after college is difficult, and students with loans should not be punished with larger debt due to unnecessary housing expenses. Students who participate in the Greek system already invest a hefty amount into this activity, and many times living in the house is the only way to make ends meet. Improving the overall living situation in the houses is important for a healthy student lifestyle. This bill would help alleviate financial constraints and would give the organizations more flexibility with improving their houses.
“Rent is much cheaper (in the house) than living on campus, which is the only reason I was allowed to join the fraternity. My dad’s an accountant,” Kane said.
Living in Greek or cooperative housing saves money when other fees and expenses must be paid, but this comes at the price of maintaining these residences to the fullest. This bill allows greater diversity of funding in order for these organizations to use the best means to keep their houses well maintained.