New digs on the other side of the river

New regulations force some sororities and fraternities to move

Story by Glen Olson, Staff Writer

The UW-Eau Claire Delta Zeta chapter will be leaving its house of two decades and building a new one to comply with new laws requiring sprinkler systems in fraternity and sorority housing.

The sorority is leaving its  house at 1010 S. Farwell St. and partnering with Boomerang Rentals to build a 10-bedroom house at 824 Niagara St. to house members and host sorority activities.

Delta Zeta chapter president Katherine Brier said they were surprised by the swiftness that the city expected such a quick turnaround, considering they were notified in July that it was a real law and that they were expected to comply by January.

Brier said they cannot have meetings or conduct business at their current house because it doesn’t meet the new regulations.

She said they heard about the law, but the school or the city didn’t give them any instructions or notifications until the city contacted their landlords.

“You never know exactly what you’re getting when you’re getting information third-hand,“ Brier said. “For a while it was hard because it felt like none of the people who had to fix the problem knew what was going on.”

The regulations are part of a Wisconsin Act approved in 2006 requiring residence halls, dormitories and other large student housing to have sprinkler systems.

This included fraternity and sorority houses registered with universities that conduct official business in their houses, Brier said.

The law does not include other houses that have members from the same organization, fraternity or sorority if they are not registered with the school.

Sam Fish, a member of Delta Tau Delta, said he thought the law was too broad, but he understood the thinking behind it.

Delta Tau Delta became chartered at Eau Claire in May 2013, but doesn’t have a house yet.

With the new regulation they would have to find housing that complies if they would like to have business conducted at a residence or have it registered with the school.

Fish said there are ways around the inconvenience, like Delta Zeta found.

“The sprinkler thing is obnoxious,” Fish said. “However I think landlords are pretty willing to make that change if they get a long term commitment.”