The Trustee Committee on Fraternity Houses, April 18, 1964
Occasionally, questions arise with respect to the College’s responsibility to fraternity living. Lafayette College accepts an ultimate responsibility for the health, safety and welfare of all students while they are in college, regardless of whether they live in a college residence hall or in a fraternity house. Because fraternities can play an important part in the educational experience of the students, the college has supported their existence. In return, the college expects the fraternities to maintain facilities and practices which will protect the health, safety, and welfare of the students. With this in mind, the Trustee Committee on Fraternity Houses recommends the following guidelines which it considers a sound and necessary procedure to insure a continuing and healthy fraternity system at Lafayette.
In a report to the national interfraternity conference in 1962 the house finance and tax committee chairman, Mr. Frank Flick, stated: “It is my firm belief that the biggest step that can be taken to improve fraternities and give them a healthy and wholesome complexion …… is to devise a method to improve and perfect the fiscal responsibility of the individual chapters.” Mr. Flick listed the items of fraternity expense that cause the majority of financial problems in chapter houses. These are deferred items of payments such as: repairs and maintenance, reserves for taxes and insurance, depreciation reserves for house furniture and equipment, and the high cost of replacememt of depreciable items due to inflation. He pointed out that those who use the facilities and wear them out are graduated before these problems are fully recognized, and that the money which should have been reserved for replacement was spent on food or social affairs. He argued that these reserves should be borne by the active chapter members and included as part of their regular fee without dependency on subsidies from other sources. The Trustees concur with these beliefs and recommend the following practices with regard to fraternity finances.
A. Reserves. It is recommended that every fraternity at Lafayette establish reserves to cover the deferred expenses listed below. It is further recommended that the cost of maintaining these reserves be borne by the active members as a part of their room rent, or parlor fee, rather than subsidized by the house corporation or individual alumni.
- Insurance and Taxes – Each fraternity should carry property insurance based on the replacement value of its physical facilities. All fraternities will be expected to submit an annual report to the college stating the exact amount of insurance that they carry.
- Renovations and Repairs – Each fraternity should establish a reserve of not less than $1,000 per year for maintenance and repairs.
- Replacement of Furniture and Equipment – Each fraternity should establish a reserve which would permit the complete replacement of furniture and equipment every ten years.
B. Collection Of Bills. An important item in establishing fiscal responsibility is to collect in advance all money for services rendered. This is the manner in which the college handles all fees. In order to insure that adequate money is set aside for the above reserves, to simplify fraternity bookkeeping procedures, and to prohibit the accumulation of large debts on the part of any member, it is recommended that fraternities require all room, board, and other charges to be paid prior to the beginning of each semester.
C. Audits. As another step in the direction of fiscal responsibility, it is recommended that every fraternity have its financial accounts audited at least once each semester by a qualified accountant.
D. Maintaining Full Occupancy. A sound fiscal policy will include means to reduce the number of vacancies occurring in the fraternity house. In order to insure maximum occupancy it is recommended that:
- Fraternities establish a safe minimum scholastic average as a requirement for house occupancy in order to reduce the number of vacancies occurring during the school year.
- Since the college does not permit room changes from dormitories to fraternities after June 30, fraternities should require notification of intention to withdraw from the fraternity house prior to this date. In order to insure that sufficient notice is given, fraternities should either have their residents sign contracts obligating them for at least a portion of their room rent if they default, or, require a down-payment on the room.
E. College Assistance. Provided that fraternities are able to demonstrate the type of fiscal responsibility outlined above, the college will continue to aid the fraternities seeking small loans or help in the collection of overdue bills. Fraternities requesting the help of the college in financial matters will be expected to submit an audit of their books by a qualified accountant.
III. Safety And Health
Since the college is ultimately responsible for the safety and health of all students, it must be assured that the living conditions in each fraternity are adequate. Therefore all fraternities are encouraged to comply with the procedures and policies outlined below.
A. Inspections. In order to insure that proper safety and health conditions are being maintained, all fraternities should be inspected by professional and technically qualified personnel, which are acceptable to the college, at least once each semester. A report of each inspection should be filed with the Director of Student Residence.
B. State Fire Regulations. As soon as possible, all fraternities that do not meet the requirements of the Pennsylvania State Fire Laws should make the necessary changes to comply with these laws.
C. State Health Regulations. State Health Regulations require that all persons handling food have physical examinations at least once each year. Fraternities must require all persons who are handling food to have a physical examination and should file a copy of this examination with the Director of Student Residence who will have it checked by the college health service.
D. Housekeeping. Fraternities should provide for the regular cleaning of all student rooms, baths, halls, and public areas. Generally speaking, the housekeeping in fraternities is below the standard maintained in college dormitories. In some fraternities it has been very poor. It is recommended as a minimum standard that the fraternities have either a maid or janitor working as many hours per week as there are members living in the house. Over half the fraternities do not meet this standard at the present time.
E. Diet. In order to insure that the students living in fraternities are receiving a well balanced diet, fraternities should submit monthly menus to a qualified dietitian for review.
F. Grounds. Fraternities should be responsible for keeping their grounds in order and keeping the walks clear of ice and snow in the winter. Fraternities should also provide for the regular collection of garbage. The garbage should be collected in metal containers which are water tight and kept tightly covered at all times. A covered area outside the house should be provided for these containers. The College will require fraternities to keep these areas neat and appropriate at all times. When a fraternity fails to keep its grounds in order or have its garbage collected, the college will have the work executed and will bill the fraternity.
IV. Vacation Periods
Since fraternity houses are, for the most part, unoccupied during regularly scheduled holiday periods and summer vacations, it is necessary that certain precautions be taken.
- For security reasons and in case of emergencies, each fraternity should submit the names of any students living in the house over a regularly scheduled holiday period to the Director of Student Residence.
- Fraternities should develop a check list of safety precautions to be taken during holiday periods. It is suggested that IFC hire qualified individuals to inspect all houses periodically during holidays to insure that the house is secure and free of any hazardous conditions.
B. Summer Vacations
- Fraternities will take cognizance of the fact that all summer school students with the exception of married students living in Easton and bonafide commuters, will be required to live in college housing. Fraternities should take steps to see that their houses are properly secured during this period.
- Fraternity houses should be thoroughly cleaned after the completion of alumni weekend in the Spring. It has been the practice of many fraternities to close their houses without cleaning them in the Spring, and to bring the pledges back early in the fall to clean the house. As a result, many houses are left in an unsanitary and unsafe condition during the summer months.
- Fraternities should be responsible for keeping their grounds in order during the summer months subject to the provisions described in paragraph II F. It is suggested that IFC contract someone to care for all fraternity grounds during the summer months, and to pro-rate the charge among fraternities according to the amount of work required.
C. General. In order that the college might have access to all fraternities during the holidays and vacation periods for purposes of inspection or in case of an emergency, each fraternity should provide the Director of Student Residence with a master key.
The College will be happy to cooperate with the fraternities at any point in instituting these proposals. However, the college expects the fraternities to take the initiative and exercise a significant degree of supervision, for it believes, that the fraternity system is worth continuing only as long as it provides an opportunity for responsible self-government. It is highly recommended that representatives of the Alumni Fraternity Council and the Interfraternity Council meet periodically with the appropriate administrative officers of the college to review these guidelines and to discuss other matters pertaining to the fraternity system at Lafayette.
Prepared by the Trustee Committee on Fraternity Houses, April 18, 1964.