A possible University Housing plan to move Greeks back on campus could bring new unity to members, a campus official said.
Andy Morgan, coordinator of Fraternity and Sorority Life, said both students and alumni would like to see Greek housing move back on campus rather than spread throughout surrounding neighborhoods. Delta Zeta, the last sorority to leave the old Greek Row, left the complex in 2011.
“Bringing everyone close together can provide a stronger bond within the Greek community,” he said. “It can help Greek relations and I think it would improve academics even more.”
Morgan said an existing state law requiring all of University Housing to have up-to-date sprinkler systems prompted Greek organizations to leave the old Greek Row.
“University Housing did not want to invest the money because it was not worth the investment,” he said. “It was going to cost more to (install) a sprinkler system in there than the building was worth.”
There were concerns about the complex’s design even while the buildings were under construction in the 1950s, and the buildings were never modernized, he said.
“The buildings had no wireless Internet,” Morgan said. “There’s a difficulty filling (Greek houses) when you have the residence halls and off-campus housing where you have wireless, nicer furniture and a nicer facility.”
Morgan said the buildings were too big for the fraternities and sororities. Each building housed 36 sorority members, who each had a small room for studying and storage with one large room to sleep in.
“The people that lived there didn’t mind it because they got used to it,” he said. “It did have some pros and cons.”
Morgan said people enjoyed the layout’s peace and quiet, but the idea of sleeping in one room could have been a turn-off.
Off-campus Greek housing isn’t in the greatest condition, Morgan said. The houses were traditional one-family homes converted into fraternities and sororities, so members now have too little space, he said.
“When you want to have a group meeting together, there’s just not enough space to fit 50 people in one living room,” he said. “You might be able to hold half that.”
Morgan said the Board of Trustees would have to look at any proposals for new Greek housing, and the university would have to decide whether new buildings are financially feasible.
Consulting firm Brailsford and Dunlavey recommended moving the Greek housing closer to campus rather than reusing the older site in southern Thompson Woods, Morgan said. The goal would be to attract more students, he said.
Morgan said the university is planning a study of peer institutions such as Kansas State to see how other Greek programs are organized.
According to the University Housing Master Plan, which was published after the university’s December 2011 consultation with Brailsford and Dunlavey, the university is exploring new options to move Greeks back to campus. One possible location is near Stehr Field, an outdoor recreation field south of Mill Street.
Haley Atwell, a senior from Farmer City studying speech communication and president of the Alpha Gamma Delta sorority, said new houses would solve many issues. Alpha Gamma Delta does not have a permanent house since leaving Greek Row, and she said all chapter meetings have to be held at the Student Center.
“While it’s nice (the Student Center) is provided for us, sometimes it hinders what we are doing,” Atwell said. “There are scheduling conflicts sometimes.”
Atwell said her chapter has begun looking for off-campus apartment complexes and houses. She said being housed on campus would be the best option, though.
“It’s just convenient to be right on campus,” she said. “Any problems that you have, you go through campus housing, and a lot of things can be looked into quicker than if you have a landlord off campus.”
Ben Arteman, a junior from Bellflower studying plant and soil sciences and president of Alpha Gamma Rho, said unity could be improved by moving Greeks back on campus, but fraternities are not having problems with their off-campus living arrangements. He said his fraternity is in close enough proximity to others to feel a sense of community.
Despite any housing issues, Morgan said recruitment is going well. The Greek system has seen a 40-percent growth over the last four to five years.
“We’re here, we’re growing and we’re doing well,” he said. “We have a strong Greek community, but you don’t see it, and that’s unfortunate.”