Numerous student organizations will be calling the new Callahan Residence Hall Residence Hall home this fall. Up to ten wings are available to house Greek, honors and entrepreneurship members.
They will provide what Director of University Housing Pete Trentacoste calls “living-learning communities” or “affinity housing.” Three of the wings will go to the honors program, six to Greek chapters and one to the Entrepreneurship Institute.
Trentacoste said that national research shows students who are living together are more likely to “pursue and stay with us, do better academically and use each other as a support network.”
“So we want to make sure that we are providing some of those options,” he said.
Last month, five sororities, Delta Gamma, Delta Zeta, Kappa Delta, Phi Sigma Sigma, and Theta Phi Alpha, along with one fraternity, Pi Kappa Alpha, took part in a mandatory presentation. Each chapter presented its plans to show it was prepared to occupy a floor.
All six chapters were either given a full bid or a provisional bid. Those with a provisional bid have until May 1 to receive a full bid and meet the minimum number of required contracts, 20.
However, this is not the first time Greek housing has been available. Pi Kappa Alpha once had several apartments on the bottom floor of the Woodcrest Apartments.
“It didn’t last very long and it didn’t work out very well,” said Kim Vance, assistant director of student life. They didn’t have a common gathering space and had a hard time holding their spaces, she said.
The main point of the presentation was to get them thinking about all of the ramifications and logistics the change would make in their chapter. Another major part was to make sure they had enough people to fill up the wing.
Of those who participated in presentation, some chapters are still having trouble finding enough members to sign up, and other chapters are saying that’s why they didn’t try to receive housing in the first place.
Eric Tanner, a senior Entrepreneurship major, and president of the fraternity Alpha Tau Omega, said the wings are a great idea but his fraternity simply “could not find the needed amount (of residents) required for a wing.” Most already had living arrangements elsewhere.
Jessica Flake, president of the sorority Theta Phi Alpha, said Theta Phi Alpha is still having trouble coming up with enough members.
“It’s been hard to be excited because we are stressed that we’re going to be the only chapter that doesn’t go,” Flake said. Her sorority members have been reluctant because of the expense, not wanting to give up their apartments and not having a place to live in the summer.
Flake, however, would make sacrifices like her sisters. “I’m giving up my dog and my apartment,” she said.
Pi Kappa Alpha received a full bid, but they still currently only have turned in 16 applications. Theta Phi Alpha currently has only 13 applications.
The chapters will be required to generate interest in living on the wing and recruiting a floor manager, who will have administrative responsibilities to Housing and will act as a liaison between the Greek chapter and the housing RA. However, the floor manager will have to enforce the chapter’s policies that go above and beyond Housing’s. Some chapters have policies limiting visitation and requiring study hours.
The chapter will also be responsible for deciding who lives on the wing and the room assignments.
However, “If they continue to not be able to fill up that space then housing will have to fill it,” Vance said. If housing has to put in a non-Greek resident it would defeat the purpose of calling it a Greek wing, Trentacoste said. That’s why they are enforcing the 20 person minimum.
In the beginning there was a lot of energy and enthusiasm from all the Greek Chapters wanting to get housing. But as it came closer, and pen came to paper, there has been reluctance to commit, Vance said. She thinks it is because of all the ambiguity around Callahan Residence Hall. Because Callahan Residence Hall is not completed, photos aren’t available of what the rooms or building will look like on the inside.
Parker LaBoiteaux, the housing manager for the fraternity Pi Kappa Alpha, said members were a little apprehensive about Callahan Residence Hall at first because of a lack of information.
But unlike the past situation at Woodcrest, the chapters will now have a common space and “not only those living there, but their brothers and sister will have the ability to come and visit,” Vance said.
“It’s not big enough to hold a chapter meeting, but it’s definitely big enough to be a living room for 30 or 40,” Vance said.
Vance thinks Callahan Residence Hall is better than traditional Greek housing.
“They’re not going to be isolated in a house where the only people that ever go in the house are members of the house or invited guests,” Vance said. She likes that they’ll be interacting with the other chapters and the non-Greek students who live at Callahan Residence Hall.
Flake thinks it will provide better relations between chapters. “Right now, you have to e-mail a different sorority or go to their meeting and bother them. If we we’re all in housing, we could stop over their floor, leave them a little note,” Flake said.
Another benefit would be that it would provide her sorority members a place to hangout casually without having to set up a time, date, and carpool to someone’s house. But Flake doesn’t think it’s the perfect remedy because the housing contracts are for a full year, from fall through spring.
“So in the fall when we get 25 new girls, they can’t come live in housing,” Flake said. “It doesn’t really work with how recruitment works.”
LaBoiteaux hopes the housing will bring the brothers of Pi Kappa Alpha closer together. He also thinks being able to call a place their own and take pride in it is very important; especially “on a campus like Northern, where really all we have like that is a bench, and currently fraternities don’t even (have) that.”
Although they’re the only fraternity that will have housing next year, they hope “to set a standard for other fraternities” and in doing so, show them that it’s a good decision.
Randy Watkins, president of the fraternity Tau Kappa Epsilon, said he is glad that housing and NKU are taking the step to provide Greek housing, but that they “didn’t have enough people interested.”
Watkins said if they had more people they would have taken the opportunity and that if, future growth brings enough members who are interested, they will.
However, Watkins does question some things about the layout of the Greek wings and hopes that this is a step towards NKU having single Greek houses in the future. With the fraternities being housed in wings directly above and below each other, Watkins thinks it “could cause more problems than benefits.”
But the 6 chapters who received a bid for Callahan Residence Hall are still having problems getting enough members to contract.
“It’s hard to commit to live somewhere if you don’t know what it’s going to be like,” Vance said. She likened it to the first bus ride to Kindergarten. “You’re scared to death to get on the big yellow bus because you don’t know where to sit