- Associated Press - Sunday, March 19, 2017

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - It may soon be easier for fraternities and sororities to open or expand chapter houses around the University of Minnesota, thanks to proposed changes to Minneapolis’ zoning code.

The proposal is an effort to serve the university’s growing Greek community, the Star Tribune (https://strib.mn/2m6vncg) reported. It would allow chapter houses to be taller, house more people and be built on smaller lots.

“It was clear to me the code was outdated,” said Jacob Frey, a City Council member who represents parts of the campus and introduced the proposed changes in July.

Minneapolis’ planning commission signed off on the changes earlier this month. The City Council will have final approval.

Maggie Towle, associate vice provost for student life, says students, alumni and the university administration drove the push for zoning code changes.

The university has more than 30 privately owned fraternity and sorority chapter houses. According to the university’s fraternity and sorority life office, Greek membership has grown from 6 percent of undergraduates to about 11 percent since 2011. More than 20 percent of the university’s freshman joined a Greek organization in fall 2016.

“A lot of our groups do feel like they are outgrowing the facilities that they’re in,” said James Ehrmann, program director at the fraternity and sorority life office. “When you have a fraternity or sorority house, you want that to sort of be the home for students - the home away from home.”

Ehrmann said there’s also interest in bringing new fraternities and sororities to the university. He said there needs to be an opportunity to secure housing to attract them.

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Information from: Star Tribune, https://www.startribune.com


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