The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Tuesday September 27th

NC law protects Greek houses

Fraternities and sororities no longer need University approval to maintain off-campus houses.

House Bill 74 was signed into law by Gov. Pat McCrory on Aug. 23. The law allows Greek organizations without formal recognition from their university to keep their houses as long as they have a charter from a national chapter.

Fraternities and sororites have long been exempted from Chapel Hill’s controversial occupancy rule, which states that no more than four unrelated people can live together in a single family home.

To be considered a fraternity or sorority dwelling, the home had to be on a single lot occupied by and maintained exclusively for students who are affiliated with a professional organization recognized by the college, according to Chapel Hill town ordinances.

Under the new state law, Chapel Hill would still have to consider a home a Greek dwelling even if the organization is not recognized by UNC, provided it is recognized by a national Greek group.

“That organization wouldn’t fall under any processes or standards or oversight,” said Aaron Bachenheimer, the director of the office of fraternity and sorority life and community involvement.

“No town — I’m not talking about Chapel Hill, I’m talking about any town — would want an unrecognized fraternity in its midst.”

The law only truly applies to East Carolina University and UNC, Bachenheimer said.

He said his office would always try to work alongside a national organization before making any decisions about suspending a chapter.

“It would behoove any University to work with national organizations to avoid an undesired situation where you could have a fraternity house that’s virtually unregulated,” Bachenheimer said.

New information

The new Greek housing law is relatively obscure, buried in a 59-page house bill that addresses varying issues from outdoor advertising amendments to regulations about lagoon closures.

The Inter-Fraternity Council at UNC has not done any educational programs about the bill because it was not informed of the bill’s passage.

“We haven’t done anything about it because we haven’t really heard anything about it,” said Kenan Drum, the president of the Inter-Fraternity Council.

Drum said he couldn’t comment further because he didn’t have enough information about the bill.

The University has been investigating the Chi Phi and Pi Lambda Chi fraternities since before winter break.

While the investigations are open and ongoing, the University cannot comment about the status of these probes, Bachenheimer said.

The Chi Phi national organizations suspended its UNC chapter in November while it investigates risk management violations.

Because the University has not taken away its formal recognition of either fraternity, the new state law does not apply to either group.

Representatives from Chi Phi could not be reached for comment.

Not a ‘card in the deck’

Bachenheimer said his office will continue to work closely with both fraternities’ national chapters to ensure that any decision made based on the school’s investigation will be made in conjunction with the national organization.

He said the office would do this to try and avoid a situation where the fraternities are sitting unregulated by University codes of conduct and town zoning ordinances.

Bachenheimer said Universities can no longer use their formal recognition as a bargaining chip in negotiations with Greeks.

While fraternities and sororities will still rely on the University to easily reserve meeting space and conduct recruitment activities on campus, they no longer need to worry about losing their house if the University revokes its recognition.

“That used to be a mindset, if we remove recognition they won’t be able to keep your house because of zoning ordinances,” Bachenheimer said. “It was still a card in the deck.”

city@dailytarheel.com

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