Updated: Join a frat, live on the street - Macleans.ca

Updated: Join a frat, live on the street

Olympics visitors cause eviction of 200 UBC frat members


This strikes me as rediculous:

More than 200 students at the University of British Columbia are being forced out of their rooms by their own fraternities — which have decided to cash in by renting out to 2010 Games visitors.

In particular, the admission that frat members had no choice:

At Psi Upsilon, 30 fraternity members who pay $730 for monthly room and board have been ordered to leave their rooms. All possessions must be removed before the rooms are rented out.

Psi Upsilon house manager Aaron Thomson refused to say how much the group is making from its rentals.

He told The Vancouver Province the money would go toward a scholarship fund, to pay for repairs and maintenance work, and to top up the fraternity’s contingency fund.

“We have this great opportunity where we can fix the house and get all this money,” Mr. Thomson said on Wednesday. “It is, of course, difficult for most people to have to leave for a month.”

Thomson said frat members didn’t have a choice in the matter and no vote was held, but he said the majority favoured the plan.

If, indeed, the money will be used to improve frat houses, and directed towards scholarships, wouldn’t it be appropriate to put the case directly to members? Rather than evicting them without cause, why not try and convince them that it is in the best interest of the fraternity for tenants to leave for a month? According to Psi Upsilon’s website, house vacancies occur in September, and that if you want to live there, you have to wait for someone else to leave. Is there a rider in the lease that the agreement becomes during the Olympic? So much for Greek “brotherhood.”

Maybe someone a little closer to the action can tell us whether this is as outrageous as it seems.

UPDATE: As Justin Mcelroy has pointed out, not all fraternities have acted as outrageously as this Can West story has suggested. In fact, many frats consulted directly with members and ensured they were sufficiently aware of plans to rent out frat houses during the Olympics.

That still leaves the question as to whether Psi Upsilon, the frat featured in the Can West story consulted with their members or not. The Psi Upsilon house manager does say that no vote was held and that members did not have a choice.


Updated: Join a frat, live on the street

  1. As a member of one of these fraternities, I can tell you that there was indeed a vote on this issue. In my fraternity, the vote was held in March of 2009, and we unanimously agreed to the minor inconvenience of finding a place to stay in February in order to get this windfall money which will be used to ensure the sustainability of our chapter for years to come.

    First of all, UBC has a vacation for the last two weeks of February, and most people would move out for that time anyway. In this way, the students are really only inconvenienced for 2 weeks, and most brothers are looking forward to this fun adventure.

    Secondly, brothers do not have to pay for that months rent (allowing them to use that money to find other places).

    Thirdly, brothers in my fraternity are paid an ‘inconvenience fee’ which will help them in any housing problems they have.

    At this point, none of my brothers are ‘out on the street,’ with multiple offers of housing given to each brother from friends, family, and other brothers.

    Though I cannot speak for all fraternities, I can guarantee you that brotherhood will always trump money in mine.
    Thank you

  2. All sounds good except for one thing – It is too late in the game to successfully rent these out and make any real money!!! Should have done this months ago. With the road closures in the area, tightened security – lack of access to the party and transport, who wants to stay there? To make their purported “windfall” who will pay high prices for this poorly located lodging? I have ben to 10 Olympiads and have seen it all – this is another get rich quick scheme that will fail!!!

  3. I’m also in one of these 5 Fraternities and this is frankly a private matter. Each Fraternities situation is different I’m sure. We are self governed so this has nothing to do with UBC or the Olympics. Wether some members are being forced out or not is up to active members and alumni members alike. There is no us vs them. It’s simply brothers making the best decisions for the future of the chapter and we will have to deal with both the reprecussions and benefits of this decision.

    To Eve Brown, we have already signed contracts months ago. It is most likely not going to be spectators being lodged here, rather staff and security although we are unsure since its the realtors who made the agreements.

  4. Most of the UBC Fraternities have rented their on campus houses during the 2010 Winter Olympics to a single user group who are providing Olympic venue security. This group rental includes six of the seven buildings in the Fraternity Village at 2880 Wesbrook Mall and the Beta Theta Pi Fraternity house at 2140 Westbrook Mall. The Strata Council who administer the Fraternity Village, developed and unanimously approved the plan in partnership with its members and the sport services division of a local company, Prime Strategies. Prime was selected as our agent because of its experience and extensive portfolio of Olympic workforce accommodations and other services under management.

    This group rental concept began earlier last year when one of the fraternities requested Strata approval for the ability to rent out their house for the Olympics to non members/students. This initiated an agreement for a common fraternity group rental concept. After many months of work and consultation, the concept and general terms were unanimously agreed to prior to the fall school term starting in September. An LOI was then entered into with Prime Strategies which was subject to finding a suitable tenant group on the terms which would be agreeable to all of the fraternities.

    The individual fraternity groups and Village residents were consulted throughout the process through their individual housing society representatives (each society has a member, who together, comprise the Strata Council). UBC also was consulted and provided formal consent to the rental program in early September. In mid September, one fraternity group decided not to rent out their house mainly due to their internal logistical and operational concerns. The rest of the groups wholeheartedly supported this program and believe in the many benefits it will and has already provided. By early November, when the final contract was executed with Prime and actual Olympic rental tenant, the program had been thoroughly communicated and should have been adequately debated by all membership groups.

    The Strata’s rationale behind this common rental program was stated as:

    This unique economic opportunity will bring a significant financial benefit to the various housing associations/societies, their associated members and residents. This will allow each organization to continue to provide and subsidize low-cost housing for students, maintain and/or upgrade facilities, and ultimately enhance the UBC experience for our undergraduate members.
    Renting out the Village in its entirety will substantially mitigate risk and potential issues that might otherwise emerge during the Olympics, for the Strata Corporation, UBC, the UNA, the RCMP, VANOC, and the ISU regarding risk, security and property access concerns.
    This arrangement will add much-needed supply to the limited capacity of the local accommodation market during the upcoming Olympic period and will hopefully assist in providing on site workforce accommodations.
    The process of developing this project has provided an unplanned opportunity for us to improve our inter-fraternity collaboration in terms of operations, supply management, governance, and communications. It also provides us with an opportunity to improve our relationship with UBC and other key campus partners.
    We also took into account the impact that the Olympics will have on the community, and the reality that while it won’t be business as usual, our temporary rentals will include a period where UBC is operating and not totally closed to academic instruction. While each fraternity developed its own specific plans for managing alternative accommodations for its student occupants, they operated under the following set of principles and common goals which were communicated and approved by the Strata prior to pursuing the rental opportunity.

    Nobody should be displaced without clear advance notice;
    No student accommodation contracts should be breached;
    No occupant should be placed in a situation that negatively affects their academic pursuits;
    No occupant should be out-of-pocket due to displacement; and
    Displaced occupants should be, and understand themselves to be, net beneficiaries of the project.
    Ultimately, the success of this project should be a good-news story for all involved, including the Olympics, UBC, the community, and especially the various participating fraternities and their members.

    We are happy to have met all of our goals so far and look forward to this continued success and that of the 2010 Winter Olympics.


    Glen Bury
    Strata Chairperson
    Strata Plan BCS 571 – UBC Fraternity Village