New housing policy and city ordinance changes are poised to adversely affect the San Diego State Greek community for years to come. In addition to SDSU’s new Sophomore Success Program, the city of San Diego passed a new housing ordinance targeting mini-dorms in the College Area and increased the maximum fine for municipal code violations. Both have the potential to negatively affect students living in and around SDSU for years to come.
Sophomore Success Program
Beginning in fall 2018, the Sophomore Success Program will require sophomores from a handful of majors and out-of-state students to live on campus. By fall 2019, all non-local sophomores will fall under the program. According to SDSU’s housing website, sophomores who live on campus are more likely to stay in school.
While the program could be beneficial to certain students, some believe SDSU is simply looking to make more money by forcing students to live on campus instead of in cheaper off-campus housing.
SDSU claims its on-campus housing is competitively priced. A comparison between prices on the housing website and those of Aztec Corner, Campanile Apartments and Lindo Paseo revealed that off-campus apartments were approximately $200 less per month for similar amenities.
This program will have a great impact on the Greeks because sophomores make up the majority of the residents in Greek houses and hold most executive board positions.
“It is crucial that the executive board of our sorority lives-in so any issues that arise can be dealt with quickly and effectively,” said Carmel Alon, Associated Students representative of College of Arts and Letters and president of Alpha Chi Omega sorority. “This program would leave a gap in our leadership, triggering catastrophic outcomes in the way our sorority is run and organized.”
The Greek community will not be exempt from this program. The executive boards of both the Panhellenic and Interfraternity Councils have met with the housing administration but encountered resistance to requests for exception. Almost 15 percent of students are members of Greek organizations. They agree with the program’s goals but already have quite a few aspects of the program in place.
“We have live-in faculty and chapter advisors, GPA requirements and mentorship programs that make sure chapter members are excelling in school,” Alon said. “And if that’s not enough, the cost of living in a sorority house is much more affordable than any price SDSU could offer. Not only does it cover room and board, but it also covers utilities and three meals a day during the week cooked by a personal chef.”
Being in a Greek organization gives students a sense of community, an opportunity to show leadership and ensures they are meeting academic requirements — exactly what SDSU is aiming for with the Sophomore Success Program. If Greeks can meet the requirements set by the new program on their own, they should be allowed to live in their chapter houses.
The College Area Ordinances
More than 150 students, mostly members of the Greek community, attended the Nov. 14 San Diego city council meeting to oppose two new ordinances. The first ordinance targets the number of mini-dorms in the College Area and will limit the number of bedrooms and parking spaces a single-family home in the can have.
A “mini-dorm” refers to a house that has been remodeled to more than the typical five or six bedrooms. Neighbors are not happy and complain these houses cause a nuisance and have made the neighborhood much noisier.
The second ordinance raised the maximum fine for municipal code violations from $2,500 to $10,000. There is concern that this increase would also apply to College Area Party Plan (CAPP) fines, although officials in San Diego city councilmember Marti Emerald’s office said it would not.
Both passed with a 6-3 vote.
Dylan Colliflower, the Associated Students vice president of external relations and member of Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity, fought against the ordinance. He said mini-dorms are a necessity because students cannot afford the College Area’s high rents.
Students, alumni and parents alike oppose these ordinances and agree that students should not be punished for acting like students. Colliflower created a petition in opposition of the ordinances and gathering more than 2,000 signatures. Alumni paid for buses so students could attend the city council meeting. Their efforts were not enough.
“Although the results were not in our favor, I felt that this was the first time student’s voices were heard in a discussion,” the president of the Interfraternity Council, Scotty Semel, said. “Students stayed at the city council all night waiting to be heard. Going forward I hope that we are able to interest even more students in our local government and ensure that we have leaders advocating for our rights.”
The mini-dorm problem has been on the rise in the past few years as rents countywide have increased. NBC San Diego reported there are approximately 700 mini-dorms in the College Area.
Students should be aware of the potential costs of these ordinances and prepare themselves for changes. We cannot change these results but must learn from them instead.
Our opinions are undervalued. If we do not stand up for ourselves, we will continue to be disregarded.