The Town-University Relations Committee recently discussed updated zoning regulations, which limit fraternal organizations in hosting off-campus events.
This particular update, presented under the Definitions section of Article IV of the Zoning Regulations packet, states that the criteria for a “Fraternal Organization” “includes, but is not limited to social, service and professional/academic organizations.”
Student organizations at the University of Connecticut such as the Interfraternity Council (IFC) and Undergraduate Student Government (USG) have taken issue with the broad nature of this definition.
IFC president Ryan Cunniff said he feels “the rest of the student organizations at UConn are willing to find a more reasonable solution, one that incorporates all members of the community.”
A spokesperson from USG’s External Affairs committee Colin Mortimer said that USG would like to “make sure that this is not an ordinance that’s going to be abused in the future.”
However, the expansion of the aforementioned definition of a “Fraternal Organization” to cover a broad array of student-run organizations does not necessarily mean it will be enforced in ways the students have interpreted Article IV, as Janell Mullen, Mansfield’s Assistant Planner and Zoning Enforcement Officer said:
“We’re not taking away civil liberties, it's zoning, it’s a land use tool; I think that the way it’s applied is very reasonable. Zoning violations come to my attention based on complaint. Maybe a big party that gets reported to the police will receive a notice of violation for fraternal activity off-campus, but I don’t foresee a neighbor complaining about the honors club meeting at a property,” Mullen said.
She said that the zoning ordinances include all Mansfield residents. “Zoning does not touch upon user, zoning only touches upon the use of the land; all of the zoning regulations regardless of the user apply, whether you are a student, a family or a young professional resident, all the rules are the same across the board,” Mullen said.
When asked about the logistics of the enforcement, she said: “My goal as a zoning enforcement officer for the town is not to go around penalizing people and issuing citations, it’s more so compliance so that we can all coexist with the highest quality of life possible.”
Eduardo Ortiz is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.