Theta Chi brothers relocated following inspection failure

Elizabeth Stoeger and Kaelia Neal

Two days after a regularly scheduled fire inspection, Theta Chi became the first fraternity at Linfield to be removed from its house due to noncompliance with fire safety standards.

The brothers received a notice from the McMinnville fire marshal that the house needed to be closed until repairs could be made, according to Residence Life Director Jeff Mackay.

The fire inspector, Debbie McDermott, was unavailable after being reached out to twice for the fire inspection record.

Theta members are being housed in the Legacy apartments and are being charged a weekly rate.

Those charges will go to the Theta Chi Housing Corporation, so students won’t be responsible for paying the majority of expenses, Mackay said. Dan Fergueson, director of college activities and fraternity and sorority life, also confirmed this.

“The college didn’t close the house. The fire marshal closed the house. The fire marshal said it wasn’t safe and we support that,” Mackay said. “Students need to live in safe housing.”

The outdated sprinkler system presented the largest problem in the house, according to Leon “Buzz” Stroud, Theta alumni advisor since 1974.

There were certifications for its sprinkler system that were current until November but the fire marshal required a more contemporary certification.

Additionally, the basement sprinklers didn’t have a current enough evaluation certification, which is done annually.

The fire alarm system in the house wasn’t up to code and there were defects in the drywall that weren’t in compliance. They also needed to replace a few doors.

The decision to bill the fraternity directly was meant to streamline the process. Since fraternity members had already paid their rent for the fall semester, they felt it would be simpler to bill the fraternity. The arrangements were made by Fergueson and Mackay.

In an effort to reduce personal costs even further, Theta members created a GoFundMe page.

They made Stroud and the Theta international headquarters representative aware of the GoFundMe page and both gave approval, permitting it as a legitimate form of fundraising.

They didn’t approach Fergueson, “or anyone in the college” about GoFundMe, but Fergueson said, “It’s not uncommon for crowdsourcing to happen on campus.”

Theta Chi Housing Corporation has an emergency fund set aside and the brothers have not received any invoices yet. For the most part, expenses they will be covered by the fund.

Inspection of the fire alarm system has been completed, the sprinkler system was finished last Thursday, and a contractor is working on repairing the drywall.

When the construction work is finished, they need another contractor to check for bugs and complete the last checks. The fire marshal can then complete another inspection.

They are making progress, but it’s dependent on the reinspection, Stroud said. Mackay would be the one to request and reschedule an inspection.

After this ordeal, Stroud said their main goal is to do a better job keeping the house in compliance.

While the house is being repaired, chapter meetings are being held in TJ Day hall.

“Not having the house has definitely been an eye-opener to the brothers,” junior Ryan Blass said.

“That’s our home. That’s our sacred place.”

While the house is being repaired, chapter meetings are being held in TJ Day Hall, which Blass says has been a good temporary spot.

One of the largest concerns the brothers have is that because the house is vacant, it may be more susceptible to break-ins, Blass said. He said he hopes the Linfield community can help look out for the house.

“It’d be helpful if we work as a community because we are a whole community,” he said.

Olivia Gomez, Ross Passeck and Alex Gogan contributed to the article.