Kristen M. Clark

Fraternity property declared unlivable

By Kristen Daum

The State News


Garbage strewn about.


Shattered glass and broken windows.


Sledgehammer marks battered into the walls.


The stench of raw sewage leaking from backed-up plumbing.


This was the state of the MSU Beta Theta Pi fraternity house on Dec. 15 when an East Lansing housing inspector canvassed 1148 E. Grand River Ave.


Ann Ezop declared what used to be a beautiful 1960s mansion on the banks of the Red Cedar uninhabitable due to numerous health and safety hazards. No one was to enter or live in the home until the violations were fixed.


The national affiliate of Beta Theta Pi had severed ties with its MSU chapter in October, saying it ignored fraternity rules by not maintaining an alcohol-free house.


The chapter's home continued to house several members until December, although the fraternity was no longer active. Any remaining tenants were forced to leave when Ezop closed down the house.


Police also had reported malicious destruction of property at the home on the same day, with an estimated $1,000 in damages, East Lansing police Capt. Tom Johnstone said Wednesday. Police are still investigating the matter, he added.


Members of the fraternity and the home's landlord, James Rasor, attribute the damages to the disbandment of the fraternity after the chapter was revoked by its national branch.


Accounting junior Ziv Weizman lived in the Betas' house during fall semester and called the environment a "breakdown of rules and a breakdown of society."


"After we were disbanded, we didn't have our weekly meetings anymore, we didn't do much together," Weizman said. "After a while, we realized we're not fighting for anything anymore. We all loved each other, but when your national fraternity disbands you, there's just nothing to fight for anymore."


Rasor, who also serves as president of Beta Tau Alumni Corp., voiced his disgust at the events that unfolded in his former home.


"Speaking for the alumni, obviously we're extremely disappointed and we are extremely unhappy with the men that let this occur — the members that caused the destruction and the members that failed to properly execute the justice," he said. "These men are going to be brought to justice either through the criminal system or internally. They had all the tools at their disposal. … They chose — and that's the biggest thing — the guys that lived in that residence chose to do this."


Members of MSU's Beta Theta Pi student executive board refused to comment on the events, but said the governance structure no longer exists.


But Weizman and finance senior Matthew Zmijewski said the board still maintained some responsibility in the household throughout the semester.


"We elected them to take care of the house," Zmijewski said. "There's still accountability there."


The closing of the fraternity and collapse of the group hasn't hurt the friendships that members said they formed at the house. Still, Weizman said he'll miss his greek experiences.


"It was sort of surreal for the first month — no more pledge class, no more Greek Week — and that's the enormous part of being a Beta," Weizman said.

Jan. 18, 2007 • News • Page 1A