Just before spring break, the members of Sigma Nu fraternity were evicted from their house on Alpha Drive. The members are moving into various apartments, and ASU has offered to compensate them. (Photo by Beth Easterbrook)
Shortly before spring break began, about 40 members of an ASU fraternity found themselves homeless when classes resumed.
ASU’s chapter of Sigma Nu, the last fraternity residing on Alpha Drive, received a letter from their national organization ordering them to vacate the premises by Sunday, March 18.
The eviction came as a surprise to Sigma Nu’s members, criminal justice senior and former Sigma Nu pledge marshal Sotero Rivers said.
“Mind you, this is the start of spring break,” Rivers said. “A lot of the guys weren’t even in Tempe then.”
Rivers, who was out of town when the fraternity received the letter, did not find out that Sigma Nu had lost its house until the middle of break.
He said rumors that Sigma Nu would lose its house had circulated since he first joined in spring 2010, and he knew they were likely to lose it someday — just not so soon as he thought and not in the middle of a semester.
For the past several years, ASU officials have harbored concerns about safety and deteriorating structures on Alpha Drive, University spokeswoman Julie Newberg said in an email.
In May 2011, the University sent a letter to the occupants of Alpha Drive explaining ASU could no longer tolerate those conditions and was willing to work with the fraternities to ensure that the houses were no longer used as residences.
During that summer, the other owners signed agreements allowing ASU to lease the properties during the school year, but Sigma Nu was unable to reach an agreement with ASU.
On March 15, ASU officially took possession of the Sigma Nu property, but took no action to evict the students.
The letter members received came from the Fraternity Management Group, a national organization that works with several fraternities and sororities.
ASU staff first learned of the eviction from a Facebook post on March 16, Newberg said.
At 1 p.m. that day, a team made up of representatives from various ASU departments met with the residents who had not yet moved out, Newberg said.
“In an effort to address the immediate situation, and to provide for the safety and welfare of our students, ASU has offered to relocate the students into replacement housing either on campus or a place of their choosing and pay their rent until the end of the semester,” she said.
History senior Nathan Fawcett, the president of Sigma Nu, said he and his brothers were grateful for ASU’s help.
“We’re really appreciative of what ASU has been doing,” he said. “They’ve been great about supporting us through this.”
Fawcett found a new place to live with financial help from ASU.
He said he and his fraternity brothers are planning on spending the rest of the semester focusing on school, but they believe Sigma Nu will have another fraternity house at ASU.
Rivers, who plans to move into a Tempe apartment complex upon returning from break, said he was glad to have ASU’s help including $1,500 for rent as well as $100 for moving expenses.
He said the loss of their fraternity house, as well as others on Alpha Drive, will not improve ASU’s reputation as a party school. It may, in fact, hurt it.
Rivers said fraternity houses on Alpha Drive provided a contained and relatively safe spot for parties, keeping citations such as minors in consumption and driving under the influence citations to a low level, but the loss of those houses caused the parties and the problems to extend to other parts of Tempe.
“All you’re doing is causing more MICs and DUIs and havoc around Tempe,” Rivers said.
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