Wednesday, February 03, 2010

South Carolina Looks to Build New Greek Housing

Carolina seeks to build premier Greek Village
Campus sororities, fraternities would benefit from new housing project

By Paige Kirby
The Daily Gamecock
STAFF WRITER

greek In a world of technology, rumors spread like wildfire, and it is often hard to separate fact from fiction. One of these enticing rumors is the possibility of a new Greek Village being built on campus.

The Greek community at the University of South Carolina has been growing at an extremely fast pace over the past five years. Its membership has swelled to almost 3,800 Greeks, who compose just under a fifth of the entire undergraduate population.

The current Greek Village is home to about 700 students in nine sororities and 11 fraternities. Although many universities have housing for Greek members, USC is unique. Not only is the Greek Village run by USC’s Office of Greek Life, but also each fraternity and sorority’s house corporation.

There are many advantages to owning a house. According to Greek Life’s Web site, positive outcomes of the project include greater alumni participation, increased recruitment numbers and higher levels of chapter accountability.

“We are trying to create the premier Greek Community in North America,” said Greek Life director Ron Binder in a meeting last Saturday with sorority Pi Chis. “It’s not my job to locate land and build new houses, but I do know that we need them.”

Currently there are a total of 34 Greek organizations on campus with only 20 houses. Many Greek students agree with Binder’s statements. There are currently fraternities in McBryde on campus that are simply outgrowing their allotted space.

“I think we’ve been ready for a long time for a house,” said Phi Sigma Kappa brother Sam Bacon. “Having a house in the Greek system would both make housing easier on us and make recruits more likely to get to know us better.”

Already this year there have been two new additions to the Greek Community at USC. Phi Mu sorority and Alpha Epsilon Pi fraternity have both joined USC this fall and would take advantage of an opportunity to be a part of a new Greek community. Phi Mu, with 252 members in its first year, has the numbers to have a house of its own.

The main problem with building a new Greek Village is simply the lack of University funding to buy land.

“The University would like to acquire more land for additional Greek housing, but the budget situation doesn’t permit that right now,” said Margaret Lamb, Media Relations Director for USC.

The ideal place to put new houses would be near the current Greek Village, but there is one problem.

“If we were to use those lots, we would have to move the existing train tracks, and that costs millions of dollars that we don’t have,” Binder said.

While land is owned by the University, each separate house is privately owned and operated by an Alumni House Corporation. According to a map on the University’s Web site, there is room for one more house on the side of Sigma Phi Epsilon, but no organization has claimed it yet.

“One thing is for sure. When plans finalize on a new Greek Village, it will be just as nice as the current one,” Binder said. “We are on our way to having the premier Greek Community in North America, and a new village would certainly add to that.”