Greeks must fund sprinklers on their own

Student Senate last week passed a resolution calling for the university to dole out interest-free loans a number of fraternity and sorority chapters that don’t have the funds to pay for mandatory sprinkler systems by Jan. 1, 2013.

Fifteen of Bradley’s chapters must meet that deadline. Several of those have no set funding to have the expensive systems installed by that state-mandated deadline.

We understand where the senators were coming from when they vote to approve this legislation. About a third of campus is greek, meaning about a third of the students who go here will live in those houses for at least a year, if not more.

This issue took center stage this week in Normal, when a fraternity house at Illinois State University was gutted by a fire. Luckily, no one was hurt.

The house had working smoke detectors, but no sprinklers. A system was slated to be installed this summer. It’s likely that had there been sprinklers, the incident may not have been so serious.

So this is perhaps the best time to begin talking about what’s going to happen at Bradley when it comes to greek house sprinkler system.

Here’s where we stand: The sprinkler systems are important. If they weren’t, they wouldn’t have been mandated by the state.

The university, however, is not a bank. It’s not in the business of handing out money without any return.

Would loaning out $1 million in interest-free loans shut the place down? Probably not. But, we’ll say it again, this isn’t the Bank of Bradley, it’s Bradley University.

We feel for the current greek system leaders. They’ve kind of gotten stuck up a creek without a paddle by their predecessors’ inability to plan for this deadline, a deadline that’s been looming for years. But if the greek houses weren’t able to fundraise for this deadline when it was announced roughly six years ago, we have little faith those same houses would be able to stick to a payment plan, even if it was legally mandated.

It seems the resolution hasn’t been signed and given to the administration yet, though we would expect that to happen any day now. Once they do, we would urge them not to agree to its terms.

It’s true that a third of the student body is in the greek system. There’s no arguing that.

But it’s also true that it’s a closed system. The chapter’s are not open to anyone who wants to join. They’re still a part of campus, but they aren’t like a club or organization that’s open to anyone. We would perhaps be more willing for university assistance if that was the case.

We get that the chapters are in a bind, we do. But, to be blunt, that’s not the university’s problem. That’s the chapters’ problems.

Each of those chapters have a national organization they belong to. Each one may have to go to that national organization with its head hung low and ask for a handout.

Otherwise, they’ve got a little more than a year to get the money and work going before the Jan. 1, 2013 deadline.

We’d recommend not waiting for a hand out from the university that will hopefully never come.

Bradley has already agreed to help out by organizing a competitive bidding system. That will come at a cost to the university.

But in the end, greek houses are social organizations. They’re social organizations that do a lot for this campus and this community. That does not, however, merit interest-free loans from an organization that – after struggling to weather the recent economic storm – is in no position to be offering them.