Beginning next school year, fraternity members living in university housing will be required to sign up for a dorm meal plan that will give them six meals per week in residence halls and 750 points, costing them a total of $2,810, according to Student Affairs Vice President William Banis.
Currently, fraternities provide their own meal plans that often require pledges and members to eat at their respective houses.
However, according to Banis, starting two years ago, his staff began receiving complaints from some parents and students about the food– or lack thereof– served at the fraternity houses, as well as sons asking for additional funds for food.
After some investigation by his staff, Banis said the university discovered “pretty serious” irregularities with how some of the fraternities were using the university system to bill students.
“For the students who are living in [university] housing, we want to ensure that, since they’re under partial care of the university, that they’re at least getting the minimum amount of nutrition and good meals,” Banis said. “My staff attempted to petition this new program so it gave the students what they said they wanted and it would be cost neutral for the parents.”
An external consultant who worked with other students to evaluate the university’s dining services discovered that Northwestern was an outlier – they couldn’t find any other universities that allowed students living in university housing to be exempted entirely from the dorm meal plan.
Many of the fraternity presidents and members of the Interfraternity Council do not look upon the new meal plan favorably, according to IFC President Lucas Artaiz.
“It’s pretty clear that the fraternity presidents as well as the members of the IFC board are not in favor of this change for various reasons,” Artaiz said.
The SESP junior said the new meal plan will limit fraternity operating budgets, some more severely than others. He added that meal times and eating together as a chapter is one of the “primary components of brotherhood here.”
According to Artaiz, a counterproposal is in the works. He said he hoped it would be presented before the quarter is over.
“We’re meeting with our advisor, Dominic [Greene], we’re meeting with other chapters, trying to come up with a proposal that has the least negative impact on Greek life while still accounting for those concerns expressed by Dr. [Bill] Banis,” Artaiz said. Phi Kappa Psi president Jonathan McClure, a Communication junior, told North by Northwestern that fraternity presidents came to a consensus to not comment until a plan was finalized.
Banis said that not all fraternities do a poor job with their budgeting and expenses. Yet the university felt it was necessary to “clean up the accounting and billing irregularities that have arisen over the years,” he said.
“We’re in the process of doing that so it’ll be several months before all the logistics of the new plan and the policies will be ironed out,” Banis added. “But we wanted to get this out as soon as we knew the direction we were going so the fraternities could plan their budgets for next year.”
But Artaiz said he still hoped that the university’s decision could be changed.
“There’s no point in denying that there are some issues that need to be worked out, but we’re in pretty strong agreement among the Greek community that the proposal proposed is not the best way to address those issues,” Artaiz said. “We want to continue to talk to and hopefully compromise […] to agree upon something that we all think will be beneficial.”