The town of Wise recently passed an ordinance amending specific requirements regarding the display of Greek letters and other paraphernalia within town limits.
The amendment specified that letters, flags, banners or any other symbol pertaining to campus must be placed within the residential property of a fraternity brother or an alum of a fraternity. It also changed specific zoning laws passed in 1987 pertinent to college Greek life. These residences are allowed to display a flag of no larger than 3 feet by 5 feet in size at any time, while other Greek symbols are only allowed during special weeks and events. These events are specified as UVa-Wise homecoming week, rush weeks and Greek weeks.
Other requirements included that Greek displays would require special approval from both the UVa-Wise office of student life and the town of Wise zoning administrator. Moreover, specifications are placed upon the size of Greek banners, letters and signs as well as the time these displays are allowed to be set up and taken down.
Currently, the ordinance allows for Greek letters, banners, etc. to be displayed on the Friday before an event begins and must be removed by the following Sunday. Banners are not to exceed twenty square feet in size and letters are limited to 3 feet in height and width.
The town council meeting took place on May 24, following a meeting by the planning commission of the town of Wise on May 2, in which the commission held its own hearing on amending sections of the town zoning regulations. Several members of the fraternity Pi Kappa Phi attended the council meeting as well and spoke in support of passing the ordinance.
However, the ordinance is riddled with specific restrictions and limitations.“I believe that the restrictions are fair because that’s what the town of Wise thinks is best for their citizens,” said junior communications major and Pi Kappa Phi brother Dylan Slemp. “However, I do not fully understand what the difference is of a flag displaying letters and our large letters being displayed.”
Others had opinions on the ordinance as well. “In regards to flying the banners…it’s no different than being patriotic and flying the American flag. It’s a symbol of something you’re proud of,” said Pi Lambda Phi brother and senior history major Stephen Shook. “I think it brings a bit of unity between those that think of Wise as a college town and those that don’t. It definitely makes [Wise] more of a college town.”
The ordinance was passed by the council unanimously and was effective immediately on May 24.