U sorority refuses to give up house

A national sorority is suing its local chapter for refusing to turn over the title to its house following the chapter’s disbandment.

The national Delta Delta Delta sorority has filed a lawsuit in 3rd District Court claiming that its Theta Phi chapter at the U has refused to hand over the house it has owned since 1939.

Alumni who possess the house title say they want the money from the house to stay at the U, where it can benefit the community and leave a lasting legacy for the Tri-Delts. They estimate the house is worth between $500,000 and $700,000.

The house is owned by a corporation created by the Theta Phi chapter and run by the U chapter alumni. Corporation officer Colleen Malouf, U Tri-Delt alumna, said the house was built with funds from local alumni and students, who want proceeds from the sale of the house to benefit the local community instead of going into the national sorority’s general operating fund.

“Anyone involved with the sorority can’t benefit from the sale of the house,” Malouf said.

Lexi Casalino, president of the chapter house corporation, would not disclose what the chapter would use the money for specifically, but said, “it will go to something near and dear to our hearts.”

Malouf said two U fraternities have expressed interest in buying the house, which has a large dining hall and kitchen, a chapter meeting room, small bedrooms and large bathrooms.

The lawsuit, which was filed Thursday, has been assigned to Judge Anthony Quinn and does not seek monetary damages.

“We felt like we had to take some action to get things going,” said attorney Leilani Marshall, who represents the national Delta Delta Delta organization. “We definitely hope that it’s not an acrimonious or contentious situation.”

While bylaws of the Delta Delta Delta organization state that the chapter has to hand the house over to the national organization, Casalino said, Utah law supercedes that obligation.

“We have had respect for Tri-Delta national for 25 years and been good, supportive members,” Malouf said. “It’s really difficult, but it’s the right thing to do. That is how our whole corporation board feels.”

Alysha Pina, alumna of the U Tri-Delt chapter, said she thinks the national organization shut down the chapter for its own financial benefit, rather than for the good of the members.

The Delta Delta Delta National Executive Board closed the U’s chapter earlier this year, citing recruitment and financial problems. Tri-Delta was the U’s smallest sorority, with fewer than 30 members.

“They looked at it as a business and figured they’d cut their losses when we were still working hard to recruit members,” Pina said.

The national sorority’s headquarters is located in Arlington, Texas.

Lennie Mahler

The Delta Delta Delta house on Greek Row has been owned by the U’s Theta Phi chapter since 1939. The chapter is now being sued by the national sorority for refusing to turn over the title to the house.