Michigan State University changed the on-campus housing requirements to include sophomores, and fraternities have been seeking more housing to include sophomores who do not want to live on-campus. Members of the surrounding communities are concerned with the safety and condition of their neighborhoods.
On March 22, East Lansing City Council voted to approve one request to convert an existing building into a fraternity, but a similar request was denied.
This approved property at 251 W. Grand River Ave. currently has office space on the first floor with apartments on the other two floors. The plan is to convert this space into Sigma Pi fraternity housing for 44 occupants, with 20 bedrooms on the second and third floors and three on the first floor with a large amount of living space. Councilmember Lisa Babcock said the location was appealing due to being close to other Greek housing and the nearby bar Crunchy’s.
Preparations to convert the building have already begun.
The motion to approve the other property failed on a tie vote. This would have converted the apartments at 532 Ann St. into the official chapter house of the Kappa Sigma-Delta Psi fraternity. Vice president of the Bailey Community Association Ed Wagner said the location is near a church and the neighborhood senior center. “I think we need to do all we can to protect them and families in this neighborhood,” said Wagner.
Councilmember George Brookover voted against approving the fraternity because of multiple concerns. The main one is the size of the building and that communal space was not designed to house a 40-person fraternity.
“Down the line, I’m really concerned that if we keep doing this we’re going to have a fire or something like that in a space like this, and we’re all going to be sorry,” said Brookover.
Greek life and the parties that come from them cause a concerning amount of neighborhood disturbance, such as litter on the sidewalk and roads, traffic and parking for parties.
The Bailey Community Association expressed concern for more serious consequences of additional fraternities by remembering the death of a student in the neighborhood in November 2021.
“I go running in the morning, I’ve seen garbage everywhere,” said Wagner “I tried to drive by there this week, and there were guys throwing a football across the road over the cars.”
Capt. Chad Connelly said the East Lansing Police regularly deal with low-level misdemeanor offenses with some fraternities, but not all.
“Noise and parties seem to be some of the biggest problems,” said Connelly. “Unfortunately noise, parties and alcohol consumption lead to other issues as well, sometimes fights, assaults and other issues where people’s safety is put into jeopardy.”