- Associated Press - Sunday, May 15, 2016

SPARTANBURG, S.C. (AP) - Fraternities at Wofford College are refusing to sign leases for buildings in the new Greek Village, saying they’re upset about additional obligations that the school imposed.

Wofford President Nayef Samhat tells The Herald-Journal of Spartanburg (https://bit.ly/1rNs2B90) that the college is responsible for a communication breakdown.

Fraternity representatives said administrators ignored their input when the Greek Village was being built, even though each chapter raised about $400,000 for the construction. “They never told us our financial obligations were going to go up,” said Christian Goerner, treasurer of the Wofford chapter of Pi Kappa Phi.

Fraternity representatives at Wofford say administrators ignored their input when the Greek Village was being built, even though each chapter raised about $400,000 for the construction.

Attorney Matt Abee says in a letter to the school that copies of the lease weren’t provided until April 18, less than a week before the scheduled move-in date.

He says aggregate insurance limits have increased to $5 million from $3 million and rents have increased to $5,000, due at the beginning of the year. Previously, he says rent was $2,000 that was paid in two halves each semester.

The new agreements also ban the use of all tobacco products, including smokeless products permitted everywhere else on campus, and any display of flags or Greek lettering on houses, which are used for social events and meetings but not as residences.

“We want the cost back down, we want the ability to personalize the houses,” Goerner said.

Samhat said administrators want to solve the issues involving the leases.

“We are currently working toward this goal, and we will reach a resolution as soon as possible. Please know that students will certainly have the ability to hang flags, use their Greek letters on the houses and further identify them as the unique communities they are,” he said in a statement. “We are reviewing the terms of the lease including the insurance requirements and will engage Greek community representatives in order to find compromise.”

The Greek Village now includes spaces for Wofford’s four sororities, which Abee said were forced to raise money to build the houses, even though they asked not to be included because of possible liability issues.

Liability is of particular concern because the new leases require the presidents of each chapter to sign on behalf of the local chapter of the fraternity, which is not a legal entity, Abee said in the letter. That signature exposes individual students to civil liability, he said.

“With respect to the legal problems with the lease, the first and most glaring issue is that the lease would have imposed personal liability on the students for any injuries that occurred at the houses,” he said.

He’s proposing each fraternity create a nonprofit organization to serve as a liability shield for the agreements. Fraternity members said the practice is common on college campuses nationwide.

College officials hope a deal can be reached by August, when the new academic year starts.

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Information from: Herald-Journal, https://www.goupstate.com/


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