An issue of contract law is at the heart of a housing dispute on the Ripon College campus.

But ramifications of the issue could affect the college’s long-term bottom line, as alumni of a fraternity may withdraw more than $10 million in potential giving to express their displeasure with a college decision.

In October 2009, the college announced its intention to move a local fraternity, Phi Kappa Pi — better known as Merriman — from Merriman House, 470 Congress St.

The building is in disrepair and no longer represents suitable housing for Ripon College students, the school’s administration believes.

“It’s inconsistent with the state of our other residence halls,” said Cody Pinkston, spokesperson for the college.

The move is being framed as temporary, with a final decision to come in October 2010 at the next meeting of the Board of Trustees.

But alumni of Phi Kappa Pi, as well as its current members, believe the college cannot do so.

Why? Because of agreements reached between Merriman and the college — one in 1939, when alumni funded construction of the building, and a new one in 1988.

Read the full story in the April 29, 2010 edition of the Ripon Commonwealth Press.

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