GREENVILLE, S.C. (WSPA) – Some students at Furman University are angry after their school decided to do away with off-campus fraternity houses.
7 News spoke with Furman students who are involved in Greek Life and others who aren’t. We learned what the decision means for all Furman students and why the decision was made.
“We actually just invested a ton of money into building a sand volleyball court in our backyard,” Luke Allcock said.
Allcock is a member of Pi Kappa Phi at Furman University, which is one of four fraternities there that have off-campus houses.
His fraternity’s house was where he was expecting to live out his senior year next year and he told 7 News he was excited, saying his fraternity had poured thousands of dollars into the house, making it a home.
But, according to officials with the college, starting next year, no Furman students will be allowed to live in off-campus houses, and no official events can be held there either.
Right now, only eight senior students are allowed to live in the off-campus houses. All other students are required to live on campus.
“Without these houses, there is no communal meeting spaces,” Allcock said. “We all want to be together, but we’re going to be forced to be clique-y and separate off into small groups, because there is no common space.”
The college met with a consultant who provided statistics about fraternities across the nation, and they told 7 News the research showed more troubling incidents occur at fraternity houses than third-party venues or on-campus spaces.
“We’re always looking at how to better our risk management policies, how to better ourselves,” Allcock said. “We really are a different community here at Furman. We’re not what you see on the news. We’re not the stereotype.”
Even some non-fraternity members at Furman were upset by the news.
“This is a smaller school. It’s not the same as the big state schools,” James Harrington said. “The guys I know are really good guys and they’re always welcoming to everyone at Furman.”
The consultant who helped Furman make their decision stands by the move.
“Probably the biggest safety risk on campus,” Gentry McCreary said. “No regulation or ability for the university to exert any oversight.”
While the decision wasn’t based on any specific incidents at Furman, McCreary told 7 News the school is being proactive and doing their part to keep their students safe, saying the distance between the houses and the campus–sometimes up to 20 miles–was the main concern.
Now, a student petition is going around the campus and has gotten more than 7,000 signatures in a day.
Allcock says if the petition doesn’t reverse Furman’s decision, he’s afraid his college experience will not be what he imagined it would be.
“I thought I was going to leave Furman incredibly proud of my school, and, instead, I think I’m going to be leaving devastated and will have a tainted view,” he said.
7 News spoke with some people who live near the off-campus houses and are happy with Furman’s choice to eliminate them, but those folks declined an on-camera interview.