MU, city refuse to plow Greektown snow

Fraternities and sororities could be forced to hire private contractors.

With snow season quickly approaching, some fraternities and sororities are worried about the accumulation of snow on the streets in front of their houses, for which neither the university nor the City of Columbia claims responsibility.

Interfraternity Council President Bryan VanGronigen said because the university refuses to plow the streets in front of some chapters' houses and the city's snow policy prevents the plowing of residential streets, some members of the Greek community have had problems parking cars along snowy streets outside their houses or walking on icy sidewalks even at the beginning of the winter.

VanGronigen said paying for such services would require financial backing from the affected chapter housing corporations and the council could only depend on the university plowing service as if they were any other private company.

"It's difficult for us at the council level to take any action," VanGronigen said. "We can only research bids from Campus Facilities and other snow removal companies, but IFC does not have the necessary funds to pay for snow removal for its chapters."

Outgoing Missouri Student Association President Jim Kelley and Vice President Chelsea Johnson leveled concerns about snow and ice removal during their campaign. Kelley said MSA had raised the issue with campus administration and the city council, but the chapters would primarily be responsible for removing the snow.

"MSA is always a willing partner in regard to snow removal," Kelley said. "Any further action will require subsequent planning, chapter organization and potential financial outlays by chapters."

The Office of Greek Life released a statement Tuesday restating its position that plowing of streets in Greektown is not the responsibility of MU facilities staff.

"All fraternity and sorority houses at the University of Missouri are not 'on campus' and therefore are under the jurisdiction of the City of Columbia," the statement read. "They are owned by private entities, or house corporation boards made up of alumni. These properties are required to follow the ordinances and policies of the city of Columbia."

First Ward City Councilman Paul Sturtz said the city's snow policy uses a tier system to decide which city streets should be plowed. Sturtz said, like other residential streets, Greektown streets are on the third tier of that system, so they will not be plowed until state roads and major city streets are cleared and possibly not plowed at all by the city simply due to a shortage of resources.

"No residential streets get plowed, period," Sturtz said. "We don't have enough trucks. It doesn't matter if it's in Greek Town, or the richest street or the poorest street."

VanGronigen said he does not think the IFC has a responsibility to force chapters to spend money for snow removal. Because each chapter housing corporation is private, he said the next step for the council would be to facilitate discussion between them about hiring one company for all of Greektown.

"It should be something that each chapter decides, however, I have no issue with IFC advocating for those chapters at the university level and city level," VanGronigen said. "There is a very high concentration of students in that area and getting to class, driving to work and other activities are part of the daily life of those students. They should be able to accomplish those activities even during inclement weather."

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