WCU “Greek” Village is no more

This story was edited for clarification on Feb. 6.

"The Village" at Western Carolina University Photo Courtesy: Western Carolina University

The Village at Western Carolina University
Photo Courtesy: Western Carolina University

Whoa, whoa, whoa, don’t freak out too much. When I say the Greek Village is no more, I’m just saying that the “greek” factor isn’t a part of the equation anymore.

The Village is a collection of houses on campus that in the past have been primarily reserved and used by greek organizations.

Beginning with the 2015-2016 school year, any qualified Registered Student Organization (RSO), will be allowed to fill out an application that will be reviewed with a chance to acquire one of the houses in the village.

The biggest question everyone has is simply: “Why?”

In a meeting that was held on Jan. 26, WCU officials gave a presentation and answered questions from executive members and alumni of fraternities and sororities. These officials ranged from Western’s General Counsel, Mary Ann Lochner, to the Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs, Dr. Sam Miller.

The lady with the answer to the big question was Mary Ann Lochner, the general counsel for WCU. Lochner said that this is a legal issue that stems back to the creation of the Village. When the Village was created Western Carolina was allotted “tax-exempt financing” to build it. One of the restrictions of the use of this money was that it could only be used by Western Carolina University, which the University believed it was doing.

The IRS however viewed that the money was used for the benefit of national greek organizations. Even though in some cases greek organizations qualify as private users, Lochner explained that the IRS does not define them as such in the circumstances regarding WCU’s case.

The IRS conducted an audit on WCU and the use of the Village. According to Lochner, we don’t know of a particular reason that Western was picked, but it just so happened that Western was chosen.

The IRS audit has returned with a preliminary finding that the school has given greek organizations beneficial treatment in regards to the use of the Village. When the IRS gets involved, you really have “no choice,” as Lochner said.

With this revelation just being brought to Western’s attention due to a refinancing venture by the university, serious repercussions could occur such as a hefty penalty, and something had to be done immediately to resolve this issue.

The plan was designed last semester but due to ongoing legal concerns the university had to keep things confidential until recently, which is why everything seems so last minute in comparison to room sign ups which begin on Feb. 16.

The plan that was determined is a point system that takes into account earned credit hours, earned grade point average, semesters living in on campus housing, semesters living in Village housing and if any modifications were done by organizations to the house flooring in this past year.

The Village point system as found in the "Resource Guide and Application for Village Housing"

The Village point system as found in the “Resource Guide and Application for Village Housing”

The way it works is an organization will apply for a certain sized house within the Village with a roster of the people that are going to live in the house. These students will then each be given points based on the point scale. The points are then added up over a three day period and the aforementioned organization will be told whether or not they were accepted into the Village. This allows sufficient time for the rejected student organization and their students to apply for regular on campus housing.

Several greek organizations have already expressed concern that other organizations are “coming for their houses,” and with this system that just isn’t a concern. If you meet the requirements year in and year out then you will not be moved from your house and nobody will take your house.

Leaders from other greek organizations are concerned that based on this new point system that they will lose their housing, and if they don’t meet the requirements then it is very possible that they could.

Although this has been a road block and an obstacle that the university did not want to deal with, they are doing their best to accommodate all parties involved.

“We remain committed to greek life” said Dr. Sam Miller, the Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs. He says this in the face of adversity as many greek organizations are feeling betrayed by the university.

Although the majority of greek organizations have come to call the Village their home, they hope to overcome these challenges as they have in the past. That is one thing that both the school and greek’s agree with at this point – No matter what happens with this situation all the entities involved will continue to thrive.