Greek Congressional Visits
On April 12, 2011 approximately 300 participants congregated in Washington D.C. to visit with members of Congress and to lobby for passage of the Collegiate Housing and Infrastructure Act. Those who made these visits to Capitol Hill included nearly 90 collegians, plus fraternity and sorority leaders, university representatives and other allied industry representatives. In attendance for Alpha Phi were the following women: collegiate member Cassandra Manna (Rho, Ohio State), Alpha Phi alumna and International Executive Board members Val Lawlor (Omicron, Missouri) and Susan McNeice (Epsilon Nu, Delaware).The event was sponsored by the Capitol Fraternal Caucus, a coalition of the National Panhellenic Conference (NPC), North-American Interfraternity Conference (NIC) and the National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC.)
The Collegiate Housing and Infrastructure Act (CHIA) would result in safer student housing by encouraging charitable contributions to collegiate housing owned by non-profit entities for installation of life-saving equipment such as fire sprinklers, smoke detectors and alarm systems. This change would greatly improve the condition and the safety of fraternity and sorority student housing facilities.
Greek organizations are the nation's largest not-for-profit campus landlords (other than the host institutions themselves), serving 250,000 undergraduate students. The non-profit status of fraternities and sororities makes it virtually impossible to otherwise raise the funding needed for housing infrastructure and lifesaving equipment improvements. When the Act passes, fraternities and sororities will be able to improve housing and also leverage private funds to modernize and construct new housing.
"The need for housing is no less than it was fifty years ago. This would be a private solution to a public problem," Alpha Phi alumna Val Lawlor says.
CHIA legislation was originally introduced in 2003, and in the 8 years since its initiation, there has been a concerted effort to meet with members of Congress in hopes of gaining co-sponsorship. The week of April 12, 2011, members in attendance were divided into lobbying teams composed generally of two adults and two collegians. These teams spent the day lobbying for sponsorship by Senators and Representatives to help make our houses safer and make college more affordable for students. Alpha Phi alumna Susan McNeice says that the combined lobbying teams met with 445 congressional offices in one day.
Alpha Phi student representative Cassandra Manna explains how you can get involved with these efforts:
Our chapters, collegians and alumnae can help with these grassroots efforts by donating money to the Fraternity and Sorority Political Action Committee, by writing letters to their district representatives in the school and at home along with their state senators urging them to support the bill. Its passage will help the Greek community across the nation.
Here are more specific directions on how to sponsor the efforts of CHIA and its campaign:
1. Petition your Congressman.
· Visit the Capitol Fraternal Caucus website. Find the "Get Involved" tab at the top of the page and click on "Register with CFC."
· After filling out some basic information for registration, find the "Legislation tab" and click "Write Your Legislators." The website provides sample templates to complete your letter.
· Simply complete all the boxes and steps to automatically generate an e-mail to both your Senators and Members of Congress.
2. Support the FSPAC (Fraternity and Sorority Political Action Committee).
· The FSPAC seeks to provide financial aid to the campaigns of federal office candidates (House, Senate and President) who support the objectives of fraternity life. The FSPAC allows fraternity members to work together to visibly support our brothers and sisters in Congress and those who champion Greek issues.
· To support the FSPAC, visit their website and click on the "Donate" tab at the top right-hand corner of the page.
3. Add the Capital Fraternal Caucus Facebook Application.
4. Spread the word.
· Bring a computer to chapter and encourage members to petition after your meeting
· Join with other fraternity and sorority members at your school to promote the importance of this legislation campus-wide
5. Stay connected.
· Lastly, stay tuned to alphaphi.org for up to date information regarding CHIA and its progress. Staying informed is the key to passage of this important legislation to ensure safe, affordable collegiate housing.
Thank you for your support!