Nerds of the University at Buffalo have a voice in Albany.
Assemblyman Robert Straniere, R-Staten Island, objects to legislation to finance the construction of six houses for fraternities and sororities on UB's North Campus in Amherst. "These are exclusionary organizations," he said. "I mean these are not clubs that anybody can join. And I am just appalled that the Democratic majority (in the Assembly) would support the use of public financing . . . to build housing for exclusionary purposes. . . ."
The man behind the "frat row" is Assemblyman William B. Hoyt, D-Buffalo, who sponsored legislation to permit financing by the state Dormitory Authority. Under the plan, which UB officials say is not yet official, six houses would be built on university land near the Interstate 990 overpass.
The legislation is considered likely to pass the Assembly. Hoyt hopes to get the package approved before the Legislature adjourns next week.
But Straniere is vowing to debate it when it reaches the Assembly floor. He argued vigorously against the bill earlier this month when it was before the Assembly Committee on Corporations, Authorities and Commissions.
"Straniere was making the argument for the nerds, which is not a bad argument," said a Democratic staff members who witnessed the committee debate.
Hoyt said he has no concerns the state would be supporting discrimination by financing these houses. He noted State University of New York officials already have established rules barring discrimination by these groups.
Straniere said he would not object to the construction of a dormitory that, like other SUNY dorms, include certain floors for fraternities and sororities.
Even if the bill is approved this year, Stein said it is uncertain whether enough time remains to complete the housing this year.