Officer Reports from Executive Board Meeting, Homecoming Weekend, Oct. 21, 2017

Alpha Report delivered by Chapter president Matt Howe. Zeta Chapter’s active membership stands currently at 17 members, with 3 brothers studying abroad and 2 prospective new members. We expect to graduate 6 members this year. Unfortunately the chapter’s pledge class last spring did not meet the required 2.70 cumulative GPA, which means that we are ineligible to take freshmen pledges this coming spring. So our goal for next semester is take another pledge class of sophomores and upperclassmen. And as a result we’re renewing the chapter’s focus on academics for both current members and new members, and we overhauled our pledge program for the current fall class. We’ve also enlisted the help of our faculty adviser, Burwood Yost, who has had a more active presence with us than in the past.

We continue to pursue a good relations with the College administration by trying to meet their requirements, but this has sometimes been challenging. The College has become very strict in their limitations on social events in the wake of the hazing death of a student at Penn State earlier last year. We are now required to have security guards at one social event a month to enforce BYOB rules and ensure that there is no underage drinking. The College also wants each fraternity to cover the costs of these security guards, which disproportionally affects a smaller chapter like ours. We’re trying to fight this via the IFC and other negotiations.

It will be difficult to maintain our numbers without being able to take freshmen pledges this spring, but it’s happened to us before, and we’ve been able to attract sophomore new members in the past. My successor will need to maintain the chapter’s focus on improving our academics, facing the challenges of a College administration that imposes new restrictions and changes existing ones at will. We’ll definitely need the support of our Alumni Corp. to meet these challenges.


Exec. Board President’s report delivered by Chaz Isaacs. Every year I’ve held the office of president there has been some minor crisis to face, including sanctions from the College and National. I’m happy to report that’s not the case this year. The loss of the privilege to take freshmen as new members in the spring for third time is troubling, and is something that needs to be addressed. But otherwise, things have been relatively quiet in terms of troubles with the College and National, thanks to the efforts of the current and recently graduated active members.

It has been a challenge to deal with a College administration that keeps tightening the screws on fraternities. It is likely that the restrictions will only increase further as time goes on. With the incident at Penn State, the College is going to look to prevent any kind of adverse event at fraternities and will look to protect itself from liability.

For the coming year the goals for the chapter should be growth and improving grades. Numbers are about momentum, and it takes only one year of effective recruiting to build momentum into the next year. Of course the opposite is also true, but it should take only two semesters of good-sized pledge classes consisting of quality new members to get our membership numbers where they need to be. Our goal should be to be in as good a position as possible for next spring, when we next have the opportunity to recruit freshmen. What you achieve now is not only for the current members but also the brothers who come up behind you. That’s how we’ve been able to maintain a chapter at F&M for over 160 years.

Scholarship ties into building membership numbers, and this is where we need to see immediate improvement. Every time we lose the opportunity to take a freshman class, this discourages some prospective new members from pledging as sophomores. Academics need to be to be the focus for the coming year for the chapter, and you need to start preparing plans to monitor the academic progress of next year’s spring pledge class.

Another goal I want the chapter to set for the coming year is to invest in the experience of brotherhood. My fraternity brothers comprised a large percentage of the people who attended my wedding in May, and they will continue to be my lifelong friends. Many brothers of Zeta Chapter over the years would tell you the same thing. If people see a group of people having fun and holding organized events together, they will want to join that group. This is an important thing to remember for rush.

The old model of rushing people with keggers is no longer viable in the current climate on campus, and that’s not going to change. The College is just looking for an excuse to get rid of the existing fraternities—last year the target was Delta and this year it’s Phi Tau—and it will take only one screw-up to give them what they want. And if we have nothing else to offer prospective members except a place to throw parties, we won’t survive. That model doesn’t attract dedicated members anyway. We have to offer something else.

Again, for this year, you should focus on improving your grades, which will benefit you as individuals but will also improve the chapter’s reputation. It will also improve our bargaining position with the College and increase the administration’s willingness to work with you when things do go wrong. Look at what happened with Delta. They did nothing to address their problems or work with the College, and the College got rid of them.

Second, focus on developing an effective rush program for sophomores and juniors this spring, and start work early on the rush program for next year.

I also want to remind the chapter officers that the members of the alumni Exec Board are here to help you, so take advantage of that resource. Ask us for ideas, but more importantly, present us with proposals if you need funding.

Finally, we will seek re-engagement with alumni through regional alumni events. We’ll also explore possible events that would involve both alumni and undergrads.


(Interim) Chapter Adviser’s report delivered by Nate George. Over the course of the past year the College sought alumni signoff on Chapter events in an effort to shift the College’s possible liability onto alumni advisers. At first, the College accepted written acknowledgment from me that I was aware the Chapter was holding an event, with the explicit statement that I accepted no liability or responsibility for whatever may happen at these events. Eventually they no longer found this kind of signoff acceptable. They also sought signoff for pledging program events, which I would not provide.

This is not an area where the Exec Board is going to compromise, and we have the support of National on that. National ultimately ended up providing signoff, with a similar statement to refuse liability. We continue to discuss and negotiate with the College administration.


Exec. Board Treasurer’s report delivered by Nate George, on behalf of Manny Farinas (not present). The following pertains to the Alumni Corp.’s 2016–17 fiscal year, ended July 1.

  1. Overall budget:
  • The budget called for a $25,000 surplus in operations for the fiscal year, of which $11,000 is due to the Corp for unpaid parlor tax.
  • Actual surplus came in at $32,000, approximately $7,000 more than had been budgeted.
  • This was achieved mostly due to actual expenditures coming in lower than budget.
  1. Revenue:
  • $68,800 of rent was collected over the year, versus expected of $70,200.
    • The Chapter House was fully occupied, but one resident took a leave of absence and did not return for the spring semester. We negotiated a partial payment of rent for the spring.
    • The undergrads paid only $2,900 of their parlor tax debt that curried over from the prior year and currently owe the Alumni Corp. $7,900.
      • The chapter had financial issues in the prior year, and continue to struggle to make payments to the Alumni Corp. and National. Although a payment plan was established, the chapter did not meet the terms of this plan.
      • In the past two years the chapter treasure position has seen a lot of turnover, with three individuals holding the office during that time period.
      • A significant payment is expected by the end of the current semester, with the balance to be paid by the end of the following semester.
    • The Chapter House is fully occupied for the current fiscal year, with nine residents paying rent. Only two residents currently have rent outstanding, which should be resolved once financial aid disputes with the College are settled.
  1. Insurance and property taxes:
  • No significant deviations. $5,000 paid in insurance, and approximately $14,000 in property/school taxes. Budget for 2018 calls for approximately $3,000 increase in property taxes due to expected tax increases due to county property revaluation.
  1. Utilities and repairs:
  • Overall approximately $4,500 under budget, but a much higher maintenance and repairs budget has been set for 2017–18.
  • Gas and utilities expenses were $3,500 less than budget. 2017–18 budget was adjusted accordingly.
  • Maintenance costs (including landscaping, cleaning, fire protection) were lower than expected, spending only $15,000 vs budget of $21,000.
    • In 2017, there have been some significant projects undertaken already, and expect to spend a significant amount in 2018. To date we have already spent $9,000 of maintenance costs to address large projects including mold remediation, plumbing issues, squirrel removal.
    • Budget for 2018 is at $25,000 for maintenance and repairs alone, and at current annualized rate, may be exceeded.
  1. Miscellaneous:
  • Overall, this area was $5,000 under budget.
  • Alumni events (homecoming, reunion weekends, etc.) were underspent. We expect greater expenditures for the coming year but have not adjusted the budget from the prior year.
  1. Cash position:
  • As of 10/16/2017, we have approximately $115,000 on hand.
  • We have $7,900 in receivables from the chapter from prior year parlor tax.
  • We are in a good cash position, and if any significant unexpected repairs were to arise, we would be able to handle them.
  • However, as mentioned last year, we may need to invest in an HVAC system for the entire house, which would most likely require a new electric service panel. This will require long-term financing and significant fundraising effort.
  • Budget for 2018 is based on an expected $15,000 in donations, which represents an increase of $2,000 from the prior year budget and actual collections. This is needed to attain a $15,000 surplus for the year to aid with the expected additional house repairs.


Exec. Board House Maintenance Officer’s report delivered by Brad Rosenkrantz, on behalf of Wil Acosta (not present). Many substantial and small repairs have been addressed recently. Some of these fall under the prior fiscal year of 2016–17; others were addressed over the summer and will be applied to the current fiscal year. These include:

1. Roof repairs: $3658

2. Substantial replacement of heating pipes (on Homecoming Weekend last year): apx $3000

3. Plumbing issues: Two leaks into the pantry ceiling and one into the basement ceiling.

  • One was caused by a leaking drain trap for the second-floor showers, and the other was caused by the failure of the wax seal for one of the second-floor toilets. For the basement ceiling, a disconnected return pipe below the slop sink resulted in water leaking through the pantry floor to the basement ceiling.
  • All of these were fixed by Ben Franklin Plumbing under our annual service agreement, as was the disconnected return pipe below the kitchen hand sink. However, the two leaks have created mold issues.
  • After coverage under our maintenance plan was applied, the cost to fix these plumbing issues was $536.
  • Our annual maintenance plan is with Ben Franklin Plumbing, One-Hour Heating & Cooling, and Mr. Sparky Electric. All of these are franchised service providers combined under one local franchisee.
    • The annual plan cost us $600 and provides discounted services and full coverage for repairs up to $500, so it has been a great investment that we will continue in the upcoming year.

4. Mold remediation for Brothers Room, pantry, and basement: Completed in October, apx. $7300.

  • The moisture issues in the Brothers Room were due to a small leak in the roof. The basement mold and mildew growth was due to the leak from the pantry floor. A small amount of mold was also removed from the kitchen and dancefloor ceilings.
  • These costs were covered under an insurance claim filed with our property insurance carrier.
  • Still to be done: recondition documents in the Brothers Room and reframe old photos that were affected by moisture exposure and mildew. These costs should also be covered under the insurance claim.

5. Reconstruction costs from mold remediation: apx. $10,000.

  • This included removing the drop ceiling from the Brothers Room, tearing out the plaster ceiling above that, and building a new drywall ceiling.
  • We also had the pantry floor torn out and rebuilt.
  • The small wall supporting the basement stairs was also partially rebuilt.
  • Still to do: Rebuild basement ceiling, rewire lights for affected area of ceiling, replace small area of plywood wall covering.
  • These costs, except for the pantry floor rebuild, were covered under an insurance claim filed with our property insurance carrier.

6. Squirrel trapping and fixing of holes in exterior wood: $2,374.50.

  • This included installation of custom aluminum guard to cover areas of exterior wood likely to be exploited.

7. Handyman services: $1500. This work was mostly addressed over the summer and included:

  • Rehang sink in 1st floor bathroom
  • Replace dance floor emergency light
  • Replace light covers throughout (dance floor, 2nd floor bathroom)
  • Replace one light assembly and one emergency light on dance floor
  • Replace high hanging light bulbs
  • Hang smoke detector in kitchen, pantry, 3rd floor hallway
  • Patch holes in plaster to one bedroom
  • Landscaping services

8. Cleaning crew: $563

  • Cleaning upstairs bathrooms, stove, and selected bedroom and hallway carpets prior to the start of the fall semester.

9. Mattress replacement, apx. $400 from last fall and this fall.

10. Maintenance to alarm system: apx. $200


Future projects to be addressed include:

  • Additional handyman work
  • Planting shrubs along the property line in the back of the backyard, to prevent trespassing
  • Scrape and repaint the fire escapes
  • Possible HVAC system installation


Alumni Communications Coordinator’s report delivered by Brad Rosenkrantz, on behalf of Dan Glass (not present). It’s been an honor serving on the Exec Board over the past year. I’ve tried to develop a better online presence for the Alumni Corp. that would also facilitate engagement between alumni and undergrads. The current website at zetaskulls.com definitely needs an overhaul, but the current WordPress platform seems to be the best option for easy updating of the site at minimal cost.

I maintain the belief (after speaking with other fraternities at different universities) that having a website for actives AND alumni is necessary but should not have a high cost. It should be a place where people can receive updates on the Chapter AND the Alumni Corp., post to a members-only blog, and read messages from chapter officers and Alumni Corp. execs.

We need to do a better job of keeping our alumni base updated and engaged. An easy way to do that is through the Facebook group. I would encourage the next person in this position to post more frequently and try to spark other group members to post as well as add new members themselves.

We need to do a better job at generating networking opportunities through the website, the Facebook group, and our LinkedIn group. But we also need to hold networking events for both alumni and undergrads.

I regret not being able to do more in this position over the course of the year, but my schedule at the start of my career in the culinary arts has made that difficult. I’m grateful for the opportunity to serve on the Exec Board.