Ames City Council hears feedback from greek community on rental code

Members of several ISU fraternities gathered in at the Ames City Council meeting on Sept. 17 to discuss the city’s rental code and its application to greek buildings.

Katie Grunewald

The Ames City Council heard from Iowa State’s greek community at Tuesday’s meeting in response to fraternities and sororities undergoing rental inspection.

Shawn Bayouth, new Ames fire chief, noticed when he took over as fire chief that greek housing was supposed to be inspected and had to abide by the same rental codes as other rental communities in Ames.

A special City Council meeting was organized for Tuesday to discuss the issue, and more 100 members of the greek community attended.

There is a fire code and a rental code that rental communities are supposed to abide by, and the issue that was discussed was whether or not greek houses should have to abide by the same rules.

Forcing greek housing to comply to the restrictions made by Chapter 13 of the rental code would cost them an extensive amount of money and force a lot of them to close.

The rental code would prohibit many things found in greek housing, including the popular cold-air bedrooms found in most greek houses, the requirement for there to be a parking space for every bed in the house and the limit of eight people per one bathroom.

There were four designated speakers for the greek community at the meeting who all agreed that there was no argument in abiding by the fire code, and that only the rental inspection restrictions would cause the majority the problems.

“Providing a parking space for every bed is not common sense to me,” said Janelle Jacobsen, one of the designated speakers on behalf of the Sigma Kappa sorority.

Arguments presented revolved around the fact that greek housing is different than any other rental community.

“When we live in a chapter facility, there’s a sense of family, community and pride,” said Hillary Kletscher, vice president of the Government of Student Body and member of the Alpha Gamma Delta sorority. “We’re families. All of us that are living together are families.”

Holden Asmus, vice president of philanthropy and community service for the Interfraternity Council and a member of Alpha Gamma Rho, also spoke on the issue of parking and cold-air rooms.

“We do work with a lot of churches, and the Memorial Union — when it comes to parking — they sell their spots to us,” Asmus said. “I know for a fact that if this code was implemented, it would be impossible to fit 87 vehicles in our parking lot.”

All of the greek houses have a corporation board, and through them and their insurance are required to follow strict safety precautions.

“Corporation boards are very, very extensively involved,” said John Fleming, speaking on behalf of the Theta Chi corporation board member. “They’re very, very sensitive to the safety of their members.”

This special meeting was a time for the council to hear feedback from the community after realizing this code existed, and nothing had been done about it.

After the meeting, the council referred the issue back to council staff for the issue to be looked at further before any decision was made.

“To enforce this code on greek houses, to make it restrictively expensive is almost denying 3,600 students who have found their home at Iowa State,” said Ben Freese, interfraternal council president and member of Delta Tau Delta. “The importance of this topic cannot be understated, and the number of students who have found greek housing a home cannot be underestimated.”