One of my favorite things about sororities and fraternities is the houses. I love looking through old composites, old paddles, old scrapbooks. It really reminds you that you’re a part of something bigger–that you’re a part of history. Like ritual, the character of some of the older houses makes you feel connected to your organization in a bigger way. Thoughts like, “I’m gossiping and giggling with my friends in the exact same room that our great great great (to the 100th?) grandbigs gossiped and giggled with each other in,” run through your mind. It’s kind of cool.
Greeks at the University of Vermont are no strangers to this feeling. Home to some of the most beautiful Greek houses in the country, most of which are historical landmarks, it’s a Greek phenomenon they know all too well. The Alpha Chi Omega house, for example, is one of the very first sorority houses, and has been property of the chapter since 1930. Pi Beta Phis still live in the home that was originally built for them, as does Sigma Phi, which has been in the same home since 1895. Clearly, their houses mean a lot to them.
Monday night, UVM students learned that they may no longer be able to afford their homes due to a bill that “eliminates the automatic exemption for fraternity and sorority property” taxes.
From our Greek UVM tipster:
With the reversal of tax exemption, my house alone would be responsible for paying roughly $18,000 a year to the State of Vermont, which simply isn’t feasible. All of our homes are owned by non-profit organizations, and it is rare that any fraternity or sorority house in this situation would be asked to pay regular property taxes. Almost every organization would have to resort to selling their homes over the next few years. Greek Life is already incredibly small on our campus, and without our homes, we would simply die out. UVM Greek Life does not deserve this at all. We are nationally recognized for our service work, have provided over 21,000 hours of community service this past year, and have just won Seth Rogan’s national Hilarity for Charity contest by raising more money than any other school.
With a small Greek system — sororities being comprised of roughly 80 members, and fraternities of roughly 50 members — dues would go up approximately $300 per member to accommodate these costs. Students have started a petition to put a stop the passing of this bill. You can sign it here.
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