Greek chapters will have meeting space at 1701

The site could also provide greek members with housing.

by Kaitlin Walker

The greek community at the University of Minnesota may soon have a new home on campus.

Space will be reserved for fraternities and sororities to hold chapter meetings in the planned residence hall being built at 1701 University Ave. âÄî the first time in the UniversityâÄôs history that a facility is built âÄúwith the greek community in mind,âÄù said Jerry Rinehart, Vice Provost for Student Affairs.

There will be three areas in the building meant for chapters without a house or meeting space or chapters without enough space to accommodate all members for meetings, Rinehart said.

The new residence hall could also house greek members, though the need is not yet visible.

Ten fraternities surveyed by the Minnesota Daily said they werenâÄôt currently having problems with housing. Many senior members graduated, and the current members that have expressed wanting to live in the chapter houses have been able to.

But some chapters may face problems in the near future said Amelious Whyte, chief of staff for the Office for Student Affairs.

âÄúOne of the fraternities has close to 100 members. I donâÄôt think their house has the capacity to hold that,âÄù Whyte said. âÄúOur [greek] community is approaching 2,000 members. As the community grows there will be that need for housing.âÄù

The classroom building at 1701 University and the adjoining parking lot on Fourth Street will be the site of a 600-bed residence hall and dining facility, said Laurie McLaughlin, director of Housing and Residential Life.

The project is currently in the design stage, which McLaughlin said should be completed by December. She said she hoped the plans would be approved by the Board of Regents in February.

Construction is scheduled to begin in the spring of 2012 with plans to open the next year.

The site was originally planned as an all-greek campus housing for members of sororities and fraternities without a house or in need of space.

While no rooms will be reserved specifically for greeks, it could still be a housing option for members who canâÄôt live in chapter houses, since the building is so close to the greek community.

âÄúSome of those fraternity members can be closer to [fraternity] row and the core of the community,âÄù said Tom Deahl, vice president of the Interfraternity Council.

The residence hall could also strengthen ties within the community as members from different chapters have the opportunity to live together.

The University has been communicating with the fraternities and sororities for years to decide how it can better support the greek community, Whyte said.

âÄúWe do know there are chapters that will benefit from this,âÄù Whyte said. âÄúWe had an issue with the community expanding. This was our way of addressing that.âÄù