by Blair Johnson
There’s a new Sorority Row coming to campus. Contrary to the “Say NO to Sorority Row” posters that have been hanging up around DuPont and other places on campus, there will most likely not be a series of bloody murders á la the slasher film Sorority Row. It’s the old buildings in Sewanee that are haunted anyway.
Sewanee recently received a grant to build new dorms. The University decided to build facilities that could address the sorority housing issue since the most of the houses are in poor condition. The current sorority houses were built for single families and not for the high traffic parties for which they have been used over the years, so the new ones will be built to withstand more activity.
The housing plan is to construct a large building with units that are separated to get the best bang for the grant money’s buck. Each unit will have its own fenced backyard, its own entrance, and a large open common area for meetings and parties. While the entire plan of the houses is still in the preliminary process with architects, the units are expected to have eight rooms, mostly singles and possibly some doubles. In doing it this way, each sorority will have its own space in a structurally sound building.
One concern of many sororities is the issue of what will happen during Shake Day. “We’re aware of Shake Day and are taking other people’s thoughts into consideration,” says Dean Hagi Bradley. Bradley also pointed out that the walls will be constructed in a way to block noise and that the fenced in backyard space can be tented if desired.
Another concern is that with all these sorority houses together, the area will be much easier to police and the University will be able to more easily control the parties. Bradley has stated that the areas in which these houses are being built are already easy to police due to the proximity of many sorority houses. One of the houses will be built next to Stirlings, where ATZ, GTU, and PST currently reside. The other set of houses will be built by Humphreys, where KD and KO reside. There will also be a third option located in the area across from Barnwell where the current EMS house is located. The University will also not be changing any of the current rules and policies.
However, since this grant is for a dorm only, the money cannot be split apart for different housing issues. Because of this, sororities who choose to opt out will not receive any of the grant money. Bradley has stressed that no sorority will be forced to opt in. “Sororities may opt in if they so choose,” says Bradley. “Sororities can make these houses their own space.” Sororities that choose to opt out will receive the same level of attention they already do, like repairing broken windows. However, these yearly repairs will only do so much, seeing as these houses are deteriorating and need far more extensive repairs. “We don’t know how long these houses will continue to last,” says Bradley.
In the long run, the new housing initiative is a part of Sewanee’s overall plan to take in the growing student population and make sure they have space to accommodate these students. “It’s not just the now but five, ten, twenty years down the line of what is to come for Sewanee,” Bradley says. “The University is committed to our sorority community and making sure they have space on campus.” Whether sororities choose to opt in or not, the University’s decision to take notice of the poor shape of sorority housing and the use of a dorm grant to help fix the problem should be recognized.
Dean Bradley has emphasized that he has an open door and would love to talk with anyone to clear up any rumors or questions they may have.