Greek house policies keep members safe


Greek houses are making an effort to keep student safety a priority.

Student safety starts, quite literally, at the front door.  Among the seven sororities and six fraternities on campus, entrance options range from fobs to keypad codes and even finger scan systems.

Phi Delta Theta, a fraternity on campus, runs on the key code system.

“The expectation is communicated to the men that they don’t give out the passcode,” House Director Thomas Whitcher said.

If people who are not fraternity members find out the house code, the system allows the house manager to change the code at any time.

“We usually change the code twice each semester, and we only give that code to members,” Whitcher said.

Other houses on campus, such as the sorority Alpha Chi Omega, have an entrance controlled by a fingerprint system.  The system was struck by lightning at the beginning of this school year, and was unusable for awhile.

The house has a backup keypad system the members used while the fingerprint system was being fixed.

“Our physical safety is protected by a good security system,” House Director Jody Springer said.

Inside a house, behavioral expectations of its members  and their guests are set in policies within housing contracts between house members and the National Housing Corporation.

Still, members of a Greek house are held accountable for their guests’ actions.

Guests not conducting themselves properly are asked to leave.  In some cases, the Butler University Police Department will have to escort people who do not leave on their own accord.

Fraternities are generally flexible on guest hours while sororities have “boy hours.”

These rules are set in place to make sure that both members and their guests are respecting the quality of the houses.

“There’s a lot of money that goes into these facilities,” Whitcher said.   “The expectation is that we maintain the aesthetics and that we’re not allowing it to deteriorate.”

The Phi Delta Theta facility received a multi-million-dollar renovation that wrapped up in August of 2009 when the fraternity re-opened.

Whitcher said that safety was one of the top concerns throughout the renovations.

Part of the renovation was the addition of new automatic exterior lights.

“It’s to keep the building lit up at night so you’re able to see who’s around the exterior of it, as well as back in the parking areas,” Whitcher said.

Other than front door security systems, aspects of safety in the houses include fire suppression and fire alarm systems.

The upkeep of these systems is monitored by annual fire inspections by a fire marshal, as well as checkups with a local fire service company.  Houses will do fire drills and post escape routes on the walls in each room.

“If you keep everything maintained, you’re less likely to have accidents or injuries,” Springer said.

To help with the outlook of possible misconduct or accidents, Greek houses have an elected student house manager to assist the house director and the executive board with tasks such as maintenance work and proper conduct.

“An important aspect of the job is communicating the conduct of what’s expected,” Alex Curtis, junior Phi Delta Theta house manager, said.   “If we see something going on that’s not really safe, we’ll intervene and stop an issue from getting worse.”

Curtis said he has enjoyed his experience thus far as the house director.

“I definitely learned more in this position than I think I could’ve in any other,” Curtis said.

Curtis has done random maintenance tasks, including pumping water out of the fraternity’s basement last Friday when it flooded.

Little tasks, such as changing a light bulb, are taken care of by a maintenance team in an effort to reduce risk of injury, especially in the sorority houses.

“It seems like such a simple thing, but the biggest claim at the insurance companies is people getting on ladders just to change a light bulb,” Springer said.  “People can fall off the ladder and break their arm.”

Other aspects of safety, such as cleanliness, are also taken into consideration.

Some Greek houses are self- sufficient with their cleaning while others are taken care of by cleaning companies, which work to disinfect the houses on a weekly basis.

Whitcher says that donations from alumni for house renovations and upkeep are a result of the alumni caring about the current members’ experiences in the house.

Springer agrees, adding that the order of the rules set in place is for the benefit of student wellness.

“Maintenance, orderliness and cleanliness are the cornerstones of safety,” Springer said.


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