Thursday, October 11, 2007

Ball State Breaks Ground for $3 Million House

Alumni give money for house
Classroom, teacher's office, bigger rooms are some amenities
Amanda Getchel

Fraternity row will look a little different after Ball State University's Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity has its groundbreaking for a $3 million house during Saturday's Homecoming.

Sigma Phi Epsilon President Kevin Miller said the current house has been on campus since the 1960s so the alumni were trying to raise money to build a new house. The planning and designing began at least seven years ago, but everything changed during Spring 2007, he said.

"Recently we had to change the design because we were going to build on [our] existing property, but Ball State bought the property," Miller said. "The new location was decided last summer."

He could not remember exactly how much Ball State purchased the land for, but he said he thought it was between $500,000 and $1 million. About half of the money went to purchase the new land, Miller said, and the other half is going toward construction and the $2 million that alumni have raised so far. Construction is scheduled to begin in November or December.

Cody Willis, Sigma Phi Epsilon's vice president of programming, said the house would be built near Delta Tau Delta fraternity on the 1100 block of Riverside Avenue.

"That's the biggest possible lot and we wanted to be right in row with everybody else," he said.

Currently, Sigma Phi Epsilon is almost five blocks from the rest of the fraternity houses.

Willis said the new house would have bigger sleeping rooms, would be all brick with columns in the front and would have a basement. He also said it would have a classroom and a teacher's office.

Miller said the current Sigma Phi Epsilon house has room for 40 members, but the new house would have room for 44 members. He said it would have a kitchen with facilities for a cook to use and a few more bathrooms.

Miller said the fraternity members and alumni decided it would be better to build a new house instead of renovating the existing fraternity. He said they knew Ball State was going to want the property for a future campus building, although he said he was not sure when or where they would put it, so there was no reason to put money into the current house.

He said the addition of a classroom and a teacher's office was something that other Sigma Phi Epsilon houses around the country were putting in the fraternities."

[To be a] residential learning community you have to have a classroom and space available for a faculty member," Miller said. "The fraternity at Miami of Ohio and 25 to 30 [other] houses across the nation have it. Anyone who wants to use [the classroom] can, and [it] can seat about 20 people for smaller, more in-depth classes."

Cara Luyster, assistant director of the Office of Student Life, said the new Sigma Phi Epsilon house would be a great and exciting thing for the fraternity. She said it showed how the greek community was continuing to move forward and revitalizing the look of Riverside Avenue.

"That's something that's been identified as important, and it's happened by fraternities moving into houses that have been closed," Luyster said. "[It'll] make it a more beautiful area and aesthetically pleasing. I really think it's a great, great time for someone to be part of that."Miller said the new house was a start of something great for the greek system because in Spring 2007 Luyster and the Office of Student Life were working hard on the greek strategic plan, and building new houses down Riverside was a goal of it.

"We hope to be the first new house in the area, and it will increase new houses in the area as well," Miller said. "We're excited to have a new house, and it will help us move in the right direction to become one of the best [fraternities] on campus."

Alumni give money for house