Fraternity temporarily out in cold

By Jen Gomez
Arizona Daily Wildcat
January 12, 1996

UA students are unpacked and settling into their residence halls, apartments, or homes, except for 18 temporarily homeless members of Alpha Kappa Lambda fraternity.

On Jan. 4, members were locked out of the chapter house, 1449 N. Cherry Ave., for not installing a fire sprinkler system, which they had been ordered to do by an inspector from the Office of the State Fire Marshall.

The fraternity is paying $22,000 for a sprinkler system expected to be operational within two weeks, the Tucson Citizen reported.

Herbert N. Wagner, assistant director of UA risk management, said Alpha Kappa Lambda had been warned since June to comply with the order, but did not have a contractor lined up until December.

Fraternity members are allowed into the building to unpack or retrieve personal belongings from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Wagner said.

Residents will be allowed to move back in after the inspector finds the house in compliance with other fire hazard-related issues.

Wagner said the fraternity also has to comply with the upkeep and repair of exit lights, emergency lights, both the fire extinguishers, and the kitchen extinguishing system. Holes in walls near gas lines also have to be repaired before members are allowed to return, he said.

Robert Jako, AKL house adviser, said the fraternity had received the letters, but not all the required reparations were listed in the letters from the fire marshal's office. He said they contained nothing about having to repair holes near gas lines.

Jako also said that the phrasing in the letter ordering the house to install a sprinkler system in "a timely fashion" left it open to interpretation.

In August, however, another letter from the marshal's office stated that the system had to be installed before the spring, Jako said.

"We could have saved for it, but the house is 35 years old, and we have to make other repairs. The furthest thing from your mind is a capital improvement that wasn't required," Jako said.

"The amount of time it took to raise the money caused construction to be moved back. Six months is not a lot of time to raise $6,000."

AKL members raised $7,000 through investment accounts and by writing letters to alumni for their support, he said, and they also received assistance from the contractor, Apcon Construction Co.

"We put $7,000 down payment, and the rest of the balance was financed by Apcon."

Now that the spring semester is in session, AKL members have had to make other living arrangements. Jako said a few of the members are staying in hotels, one moved in with his sister temporarily, and others are staying with their girlfriends.

"We thought there would be flexibility on the part of the UA because we are acting in good faith," he said. "These students are obviously here to get a college education, and the UA closes the door on them. It puts the extra burden of figuring out where they are going to live."

Matthew Kleiner, AKL member and third-year political science student, is housing six members in the four-bedroom house he shares with three roommates.

He said more may be staying with him if other members do not find a place to live.

Scott Bushey, media arts sophomore, said he had a class until 5 p.m. yesterday and wanted to go in the house and get some of his things.

"I needed clothes so I called the UAPD for an escort, but they didn't let me in. I can't even go into my own house. It's not like I'm going to vandalize it."

Members of Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity were also locked out because they did not comply with the inspector's order to install a fire sprinkler system. In two separate cases, three Sigma Phi Epsilon members were arrested by the UAPD for trespassing. They were cited and released. All three arrests were made after 5 p.m.