Greek members hope to find a place to call home

Currently, the UNF Greek community lives a nomadic life, typically holding the chapter meetings that bring them together in classrooms, banquet halls and other places they can fit on campus. But that could change this summer.

Possible plan from the Greek Village Feasibility Study.

Possible plan from the Greek Village Feasibility Study.

Fraternity and Sorority Housing Committee established a June 1 deadline for fraternities and sororities to make financial commitments for housing. Justin Sipes, Coordinator of UNF Fraternity and Sorority Life, said at least five commitments are needed to make the project work financially. John Delaney, UNF President, said each chapter would have to make a downpayment of $20,000.

But the commitment isn’t just about money. Financially committed fraternities and sororities also have to prove they are capable of taking care of these new living arrangements.

“All the groups need to present to demonstrate to us why they deserve to have housing,” Sipes said. It’s not just going to be ‘Well, you have money so we’re just going to say okay, here you go.’”

The program will be run through UNF’s Housing and Residence life. Assuming the project receives enough commitments, the houses will be located behind Hicks Hall.

The location of the site would be about a 20 minute walk from most academic buildings, across Kernan Blvd. from Alumni Drive.

Chapters would have a choice between a townhouse or freestyle structure, and sizes of either 18, 20, or 36 bed spaces. Sipes said the project needs a mixture of these structures and sizes in order to work financially. The sizes will be determined by the number of members of the fraternity or sorority.

Possible floor plan from the Greek Village Feasibility Study.

Possible floor plan from the Greek Village Feasibility Study.

According to the Feasibility Study Process, the houses should be environmentally friendly and match with the design of other UNF buildings. The study also includes strategies to make the buildings to LEED standards, a certification process offered by the U.S. Green Building Council.

A population of gopher tortoises currently live on the site and the study includes plans to relocate the state-listed protected species.

Sipes said fees for Greek life members will increase depending on the chapter, even if a member chooses not to live in Greek housing.

Carlo Fassi, UNF Student Body President, said he considers Greek housing an essential component to any campus.

“If you add anywhere between 400, 500, 600 Greeks, or however many we would have on campus, those are involved students that are going to add another aspect of enthusiasm for what is going on on campus, whether it be athletic-related or student-affairs-related,” Fassi said.

Sipes said members who elect to live in the house would pay a fee similar to the UNF housing fees. All members, despite their living arrangements, would likely pay an additional fee for the common areas such as a kitchen, storage space, and large chapter rooms.

“One of the nice aspects of having it through UNF housing is that students with scholarships or financial aid can apply that to living in this space, as well,” Sipes said.

If Greeks have to back out for some reason, Fassi said the houses are still usable.

English language program students or athletes could live in those spaces if Greeks were unable to, he said.

Laura Worrell, Assistant Director of Fraternity and Sorority Life, said there are approximately 1,200 Greek members. Sipes anticipates the number will increase with the development of Greek housing.

Monica Moya, a member of Delta Gamma, said she would like a place to have chapter meetings other than classrooms.

Brooks Bernstein, a member of Kappa Alpha Theta, said Greek housing will bring sisters of different sororities together and help new initiates feel more comfortable in the Greek community faster.

Comparable greek populations from the Greek Village Feasibility Study.

Comparable greek populations from the Greek Village Feasibility Study.

This is not the first time UNF has played with the idea of Greek housing.

In 2003, students began the push for Greek housing at UNF. Members of fraternities and sororities such as Sigma Chi started collecting money from members to build the houses.

A plan was established in 2009 for the Greeks to lease land from the university to build their own houses. Delaney said this plan proved to be unsuccessful because Greeks did not have the proper funds to carry out this initiative.

Greeks at UNF have an alternative route for raising funds. National chapters of each sorority or fraternity could decide to invest in Greek housing at UNF. However, Delaney said national chapters need bigger chapters than the ones present at UNF in order to consider financing.

Delaney hopes to see the construction of Greek housing during his remaining time at UNF. Fassi said Delaney has been a key supporter in this project.

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