Members of NMU fraternities and sororities are working on a proposal that would allow them to display Greek letters on their houses in areas of the city where they are currently not permitted.
The proposal, which is in its final draft, would ask for an exception to the ordinance known as the City of Marquette Sign Ordinance. Connie Goudreau, a member of Phi Sigma Sigma and a junior pre-law student, said that she wanted to try to make a change to the ordinance.
Goudreau hopes that by getting permission to put letters on the Greek houses, recruitment of new members will grow and hopefully add to Greek life at NMU.
“I want to see the Greek community at Northern grow. I’ve heard the stories and seen the yearbooks of when it was huge at NMU, and I want it to get back there,” Goudreau said.
Goudreau researched surrounding college cities that had sign restrictions and how their Greek chapters had dealt with the laws. Then she met with Dave Bonsall, the director for the Center for Student Enrichment and advisor for the Greek Council, and David Haynes, a political science professor who has had a lot of experience with state and local governments, to write the first draft of the proposal.
According to Goudreau, the ordinance was not necessarily targeted at the Greek organizations. When the ordinance came into effect, residential families feared that Greek houses with signs on the property would bring down the value of their own properties.
“(Signs) have to be in an area zoned appropriately for the use. And the multiple family residential area is what it is,” said Dennis Stachewicz, the Marquette City Planner and Zoning Administrator. Stachewicz went on to explain that the community zoning district has an ordinance that allows the community to decide where to put signs in the districts.
The proposal outlines all the contributions the Greek chapters bring to Marquette’s community, including an average of 500 community service hours a semester along with raising thousands of dollars for organizations such as the AIDS Foundation and The National Kidney Foundation. It also outlines the restrictions their signs would have and the process Greek chapters would have to go through to put signs on their houses.
This proposal also introduces the idea of a “Greek row,” in which all of the Greek houses would be located in a one block area. The area proposed would be on Fourth Street and Presque Isle Avenue between Bluff Street and Wright Street. If the proposal is passed, Greek letters and signs would only be allowed in this area. With all the houses in one area, Public Safety would be able to patrol the area instead of leaving it up to the city police.
The proposal is likely to be presented to the Marquette City Council before the end of the semester.
If the proposal fails, Goudreau intends to take any feedback from the council and rewrite the proposal to submit it again.
“We do a lot on the NMU side of things and a lot in the Marquette community, and we just want to get some recognition out there of who we are and what we do,” said Amber Snyder, member of Phi Sigma Sigma, and a senior public relations and political science major. Snyder helped Goudreau with the drafting of the proposal.
Goudreau says that students who wish to support the proposal, which she can include in the document can e-mail her a letter at [email protected]