Greek Task Force looks at housing

It hopes to boost greek involvement by repairing chapter houses.

Samantha Alisankus

In recent years, the University of Minnesota’s greek community has surged in numbers — but it’s still the smallest in the Big Ten.

After reaching a 20-year membership high in 2011, the community added more than 700 members during fall 2012 recruitment.

The University’s greek system size relative to the Big Ten has caused administrators to seek strategies for continued expansion. Its solution: increase enrollment by improving the condition of deteriorating chapter houses.

“If we want growth [in membership], facilities need to be better,” said Jerry Rinehart, vice provost for student affairs.

Rinehart is co-chair of the University’s Greek Community Strategic Task Force, initiated in March by President Eric Kaler and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost Karen Hanson. The group, charged with assessing the state of greek housing, among other things, is scheduled to present its findings in mid-November.

The task force has been evaluating housing with what Rinehart calls “formal walkthroughs,” where members of the task force tour chapter houses and report on their findings.

In addition to housing conditions, the task force has been asked to consider adding new greek chapters to campus.

But Rinehart said many houses are not yet at capacity, and despite the climb in greek interest, bringing more chapters to campus could make it difficult to fill already vacant spaces.

Although the task force focuses primarily on housing issues within the Interfraternity and Panhellenic councils, Matt Levine, program director for the Office for Fraternity and Sorority Life,  said the task force could result in programs that would benefit the Multicultural Greek Council.

None of the multicultural greek organizations currently have official chapter houses, but Levine said repairing current houses could help them with similar problems if they get houses in the future.

Another main goal of the task force — although not specifically related to housing — is the “re-engagement” of the alumni community with campus greek life, Rinehart said. For this reason, he said the task force is comprised primarily of alumni members but also includes representatives from all three greek councils.

According to Rinehart, alumni involvement is key to the success of the greek community, but that group has been underrepresented in recent years.

Nolan Anderson, president of the University’s chapter of Delta Chi Fraternity,  said he looks forward to seeing what the task force will come up with.

“I think filling the house up to capacity and getting the alumni involved are two key ideas that would help the prosperity of any house,” he said.