Greek growth limits on-campus housing

Returning students will not be not guaranteed on-campus housing for the 2011-2012 school year because of the growing demand for greek housing, according to the “Frequently Asked Questions” section of Housing and Residential Communities website.

“Because of the growth in the greek community and the need for new sorority housing, several residence halls will be razed in summer 2011, to support this growing demand,” the website states in response to the question, “Why are returning students not guaranteed campus housing?”

Gentry McCreary, director of greek affairs, said the goal of greek growth is not to eliminate dorm space, but to reduce the size of each sorority’s chapter. As each greek chapter grows exponentially, McCreary said it’s only a matter of time before they’ll have to expand further across campus.

“The fact of the matter is, most of our greek organizations have doubled in size in the last seven years, and they've simply outgrown their facilities,” McCreary said in an emailed statement. “We currently have approximately 1,050 students living in greek housing on campus.

“With the construction of four new sorority houses and the planned construction of at least two new fraternity houses, this number should continue to grow,” McCreary added.

The plan is to add four new sororities by 2017, McCreary said. Delta Gamma will be first, followed by additional chapters in 2013, 2015 and 2017. This is necessary, McCreary said, to accommodate a greek population that has doubled since 2003. Although the population has doubled, the amount of greek housing has not.

But this expansion is not in vain, McCreary said. Old greek houses won’t simply be torn down or abandoned; they will be recycled.

“Our growth has also assisted many of our newer organizations find housing on campus — as existing groups have constructed new facilities, their old houses have been available for purchase by new groups without permanent housing,” McCreary said.

“The process is a partnership between the University, the chapter and each chapter's alumni housing corporation,” McCreary said. “We work together every step of the way, beginning with architectural selection and financing all the way through the construction process.”

Ben Fisher, a junior majoring in international studies, said he found Housing’s response to this issue troubling. Fisher, who lives in Ridgecrest West, said he questioned how the University allocates resources to greek life versus on campus housing.

“I’ve always wondered how much money the University actually gives sororities and fraternities because I know they’re private organizations and chapters,” Fisher said. “But I don’t see the point in giving so much space to them, especially when it’s taking away the availability of freshman housing.”

Although Fisher said he hasn’t had any issues finding housing in the past, he thinks the University is obligated to keep it that way.

“I think they should leave it up to the sororities to find their own housing options,” Fisher said. “It shouldn’t be the University’s problem to try to make space for them.”

Daniel Barnes, a freshman majoring in telecommunications and film, said the University has been constantly reminding him that space is limited since the end of first semester.

“Obviously we [freshmen] have to live on campus, so less dorm space would be a big issue,” Barnes said. “I get a lot of e-mails about how space is limited, but we’re not guaranteed a spot anymore. But greeks don’t have to worry about it because they have their house.”

For more information about housing options, recontracting and other frequently asked questions, visit the Housing and Residential Communities’ website at housing.ua.edu.

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