Latest disgraced UA frat becoming pricey student housing

2014-08-08T21:00:00Z 2014-08-08T22:08:32Z Latest disgraced UA frat becoming pricey student housingBy Carol Ann Alaimo Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

Another troubled fraternity is being banished from the University of Arizona — the fifth in less than three years — and the UA is turning its $1.8 million Greek Row house into upscale student housing.

The Kentucky-based headquarters of Phi Gamma Delta is severing ties with its UA chapter after seven fraternity members were recently arrested on suspicion of providing alcohol to minors and misleading police officers investigating a member’s death.

Local members of the fraternity, nicknamed “Fiji,” are now banned from the house and have had to find apartments off campus, officials said.

“Operations of the Phi Gamma Delta chapter at the University of Arizona have been halted” because of recent misconduct of its members, said Bill Martin, executive director of the parent organization in Lexington, Kentucky.

The headquarters office “has begun its process to withdraw the charter of the chapter,” he said in an email.

The chapter, established in 1931, recently found its activities under a microscope after freshman Michael Anderson of California fell to his death from a cooling tower on campus in April.

A police investigation turned up evidence that Anderson, 19, and fellow fraternity brothers were partying at the frat house a few hours before he died with more than twice the legal limit of alcohol in his blood.

One witness told police there was “alcohol in every room” of the fraternity house, which was supposed to be a “dry house” — one that didn’t allow alcohol — police reports said.

Police also found evidence the fraternity had hosted at least 20 other parties since December at which minors were served alcohol.

The fraternity house, which is at 1801 E. First St. and was built with member donations, opened in 2003 and is valued at about $1.8 million, according to Pima County property records. It replaced an older house torn down to make room for the new one.

Work crews recently removed the fraternity’s logos from the building and replaced them with a sign for the new Rawls/Eller Lodge, which will house 62 students and two residence advisers.

It will be the smallest student-housing site on campus. All the others each hold more than 100 students, and most hold several hundred.

Rents at Rawls/Eller will range from $7,150 per academic year for a room shared by four students to $7,870 for a double-occupancy room.

By comparison, lower-cost student housing can be had for $5,670 to $6,370 elsewhere on campus.

Jennifer Hiatt, executive director of UA Residence Life, said her office approached the fraternity after learning the house was being shut down. Details of the contract are still being worked out, she said.

The setup allows UA to acquire more student-housing spaces without adding to its overhead because student rents will cover the leasing costs, she said.

“We know from experience and research that students — especially freshmen — are more successful when they can live on campus,” she said.

The UA has issued its own temporary suspension against the fraternity, and expects to announce a final decision in the next few weeks, officials said.

Four other fraternities — Phi Kappa Psi, Delta Chi, Tau Kappa Epsilon and Pi Kappa Phi have been booted from the UA campus since early 2012.

Contact the reporter at calaimo@tucson.com or 573-4138.

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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