Fraternity & Sorority Life say they’re closer than ever to getting housing

Regina Kaza

After decades of talk, FAU may finally get Greek housing. According to a Greek official, however, “It won’t look like a traditional frat house you would see on TV.”

Housing won’t consist of the huge mansions seen at schools like UF. They’ll be dorms, and some Greeks will only get a room.

FAU is considering Auburn University’s “Greek Village” model, in which each chapter has a section of the building and a common chapter room for storage, meetings and events, said housing director Jill Eckardt.

“There are separate entrances. You have the concerns of one group running into another and having issues,” said Eckardt. Larger chapters will have entire floors, while smaller ones will have one room. FAU hopes the fact that organizations can’t go on each other’s floors will give them a sense of identity. The dorms will have full-sized kitchens, much like those in the Innovation Village Apartments.

The Fraternity & Sorority Life Housing Task Force, a committee designed to bring Greek housing to FAU, took a trip to Auburn University in Alabama where they found the “Greek Village” model. They hope to make FAU’s Greek housing similar to this. Photo courtesy of Auburn University

FAU wants to use their land more efficiently and save the space that traditional houses would take up. It’s not yet clear where the buildings would go. “At the end of it, not every chapter is going to live in housing, but we will try our best to accommodate everyone,” said Ryan O’Rourke, coordinator of the Office of Fraternity & Sororitiy Life (OF&SL).

“If smaller organizations can’t have housing, that’s something that the office needs to look into. Maybe sit down and think of a recruitment strategy to get their organizations bigger,” said Chuck Forbes, Pi Kappa Alpha president at FAU.

FAU’s Greek organizations have anywhere from six to 100 members. Still, the plans would call for constructing space for over 700 students and 17 chapters, according to Eckardt.

“It would be unrealistic,” O’Rourke said when asked about placing every Greek organization in housing. The rules in the Greek dorms would be similar to IVA’s. According to Eckardt, there would be RAs on every floor to address problems. If the RAs can’t solve them,  they would then go to the sorority or fraternity’s president, who would take care of it.

FAU’s market study for Greek housing showed, “Greeks were very excited about the prospect of on-campus housing, but felt that housing policies should be more relaxed within a Greek village.”

O’Rourke believes this mostly has to do with the current housing policy on candles. “Typically, those conversations come down to candles. Sororities and fraternities use them in candle ceremonies,” said O’Rourke. “My hope is that it’s not about alcohol. At the end of the day, the policy on alcohol will be the same as the regular housing policy.”

Figuring out the funding of Greek housing is the next step. Auburn’s “Greek Village” looks very similar to IVA, except for the fully-equipped kitchens and IVA’s construction cost of over $70 million, according to Eckardt.

Khaliah Jack, member of Delta Sigma Theta, commented about not every chapter receiving housing. “It’s a good idea, because we’re gonna have to pay the difference.”

This year, FAU had the largest incoming freshman class in its history. This meant Housing had to place some of the students in IVA and off campus.

“We probably would not put freshmen into Greek housing. At Auburn they put transfer students on the floor that was not claimed by a sorority, as they would potentially consider going Greek,” Eckardt said.

According to Eckardt, Greek housing has always been part of FAU’s master plan. “My vision was that Greek housing should be near the stadium. In other institutions, Greek life is very supportive of athletics.”

“With the stadium going up, the last thing we need is Greek housing to become a traditional university,” said Forbes.

Eckardt acknowledged that some of the people involved in getting housing for Greeks might not be around to see it finished.  They might graduate before then. But she said Greek alumni might want to come back for football and sporting events. “Students in the task force would be gone before they see housing, but they’re leaving a legacy,” she said.

“What I want people to get out of it is that we’re farther along than we’ve ever been,” O’Rourke said.