More than a year after approving the plans to build sorority cottages, construction is nearing completion and sorority presidents must decide how to best use the new space.
Junior Kaitlyn Walsh, president of Kappa Alpha Theta, said that her sorority was going to use the cottage mostly for recruitment purposes and bonding activities.
"The space is going to be an area for recruitment, sisterhood events and sorority rituals," she said. "Basically, it is a private meeting space that we can utilize in any way that seems fit."
Walsh said that, although they had not chosen exactly how they were going to decorate, the women had decided on one unique feature.
"We are hoping to add something to memorialize two of our sisters," she said, referring to Jamie and Paige Malone, members of Theta who died in a car crash last year.
President of Pi Beta Phi junior Carter Staub said that her sorority had a basic idea of how they were going to decorate and were going to go with a more classic look, but were more excited about the activities that would take place in their cottage.
"Personally, I want to do Bachelor Mondays, where we get everyone together to watch the Bachelor," she said, "but, it can be used as a study room or if someone wants to cook and for meetings. It would be nice to have exec and chapter meetings in a more comfortable environment."
Alison Bartel Keller, director of Greek life, said that the university staff had been talking about building the cottages for the past 20 years.
"I've been here from the beginning," she said, "so I was instrumental in facilitating all the conversations and the development of the design to make sure that it was consistent with the needs of the organizations."
Keller said that serious talk had begun about five years after the sororities were brought to campus, and that she was excited about the grand opening, which is scheduled for Homecoming weekend in November.
"They're absolutely extraordinary," she said. "We couldn't have asked for anything more. I think they are a fantastic idea because it will be a space not just for sororities.
"The large space is designed specifically for students, and the courtyard will be there for people to enjoy. Our vision is for it to become a primary programming space for a number of activities."
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Andrew McBride, the university's architect, said that the plan had been approved by the Board of Trustees last April, and they had broken ground this October. The total cost of the eight cottages and the student center was $5 million.
"That includes the architects, construction, technology, furniture, insurance and contingency," McBride said. "Construction is just one aspect of the project. The whole thing was a collective effort. Obviously the architect was the creative part of that, but the architect would present some ideas and we, the university collectively, would react and give suggestions and he would go from there."
McBride said that construction was expected to be completed in late summer or early fall.
After having a walk-through of the unfinished cottages, the sorority presidents said that they were small, but they did not foresee that being a problem.
"They are small, but they're only effective that way," Walsh said. "It makes them cozier and not gargantuan. It really embodies the aura of a cottage."
Staub said that although her sorority of 144 women is the largest on campus, she did not think they would have any problems making it work, especially because not every member would be present at every meeting.
Sororities may be decorating their cottages in different ways, but all three sorority presidents said the same thing: they were very excited about having a place of their own.
Contact reporter Charlotte Brackett at firstname.lastname@example.org
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