Friday, March 27, 2009

ATΩ to lease out Kappa Sigma house

This past Wednesday it was announced at the IFC president’s meeting that the Kappa Sigma fraternity would be leasing out its currently vacant house. 

Since then the Alpha Tau Omega fraternity has announced that it will be taking over that lease, and thus taking a spot among the rest of South Greek.

Even with the news of the house being leased released to the public, the current Alpha Tau Omega (ATO) president, James Benson has kept fairly quiet on the matter. 

"Obviously, the chapter's very excited about it and they are happy to be back with a physical presence on campus," said Michael Carter, Alpha Tau Omega Housing Corporation President.

While the contracts have yet to be signed and made official, the ATO's Housing Corporation is confident in the transaction.

In past years the ATOs have held their rush out of sorority houses, such as the Delta Gamma house as recently as this last spring rush.

With the addition of living in a substantial building, (even if it only for a limited time) ATO could see a big jump in the number men they sign this coming fall. Overall, this could potentially fortify ATO as a chapter among the rest of the Greek community, and as an organization at the University of Oklahoma.

“I’m excited for them. I’m friends with one in my Spanish class, and they seem like a bunch of really nice guys,” said Courtney Marino, university college freshman.

The fortune that the ATOs are finding however has been at the expense of the Kappa Sigma fraternity. Although, Kappa Sigma’s departure from the OU campus was a decision made by Kappa Sigma’s national headquarters, and neither the university nor IFC had any influence in the matter.

"I've been house mother for the Kappa Sigs for five years now, and I've really enjoyed it. It was really a surprise, and it was really hard on a lot of the guys," said Brenda Garde, Kappa Sigma house mother.

NewsOK reports that reason from the pulled charter was because “a computer used to make fake Texas driver’s licenses was seized in October 2005 from a member’s room at the Kappa Sigma house, 1100 College Ave. Thirty-six people turned over their fake IDs during an amnesty period.”

By whatever means it happened, this negative event has become a very positive event for the ATOs. Even the Garde thinks that though this is a sad time for the Kappa Sigma house, she knows that there are many positive aspects of this transaction.

"I met about 20 of [the ATOs] when they came and had a tour of the place. They reminded me a lot of the Kappa Sigs, but then fraternity guys are a lot alike I think. But they seem like really great guys," said Garde.

Once the ATOs already called South Greek home, in what is now the Alpha Omicron Pi sorority house, at 1411 Elm Avenue. For whatever reason that Kappa Sigma is now off campus, ATO is certainly benefiting. However, it is a wonder why ATO has not gone on ahead and built their own house.

“Some time last semester I read a story in the Daily that said that Norman passed a law that prevented any more Greek houses from being built,” said Nikkole Zwolenik, public relations sophomore.

According to the city of Norman zoning ordinance, there is some legitimacy to this claim of housing regulation. There is a restriction that has been part of the zoning ordinance since 1954 that was issued to deal with complaints generally revolving around traffic, noise, and parking.

Under the “three unrelated person ordinance,” no more than three people of varying last names can reside in a single-family dwelling. This includes three unrelated persons living together in a quasi-unit quarter.

“I asked my friend who’s a FIJI if that would effect anything with them because they’re rebuilding their house, but apparently it doesn’t. I thought that was why ATO hadn’t built their own house yet,” said Zwolenik.

The city of Norman defines a quasi-unit quarter as a unit of dwelling space that shares common living and kitchen facilities (similar to a fraternity house). However, this specifically excludes sorority or fraternity houses. Fraternity and sorority houses are classified as R-3 residential units, which are exempt from this ordinance.

Whether or not the ATOs build their own house or not, for the next two to five years they will have a secure spot amid the rest of the quickly growing Greek community. 

The ATOs will take over the full lease June 1 and will move in at the beginning of the next fall semester.

Above: Alpha Tau Omega's Housing Corporation President, Michael Carter comments on ATOs current leasing status. Featured is the Kappa Sigma house in which the ATOs will be leasing out for the next couple of years.

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