Both newer and established Greek organizations are finding a permanent home at WKU thanks to ongoing construction in and around campus.
Delta Zeta, Alpha Omicron Pi and Sigma Phi Epsilon are currently in the process of building houses for their chapter members. These three houses are at the tail end of a 15-year construction process for Greek housing, Charley Pride, director of student activities, said.
“We’ve built one, two or three [houses] each year,” Pride said. “Most facilities were aging, and many were upgraded for more room for residents and building larger space for chapter rooms.”
Pride said Delta Zeta’s house on Chestnut Street will be finished and ready for residents to move in by August. He said there is no estimated date for the completion of construction for Alpha Omicron Pi’s house, also on Chestnut Street, or Sigma Phi Epsilon’s house on College Street.
Discussions for a new house for Lambda Chi Alpha have begun, as well, but Pride said that is still subject to change.
Andrew Rash, coordinator of Greek affairs, said the construction reflects modern wants and needs of the students living in and utilizing those spaces.
“What people lived in 20 years ago isn’t what people live in now,” he said. “People want private rooms and a multipurpose space for study rooms, chapter meetings or Spring Sing practice.”
Pride said the Fall 2018 semester was the largest semester he has seen for WKU’s Greek life in terms of numbers, with over 2500 currently active members, around 25 percent of the undergraduate population.
“Greek life has blossomed over the past 10 years,” he said.
Delta Zeta began its chapter in early 2015 and participated in its first recruitment during Fall 2015.
Delta Tau Delta was reinstated last fall after four years off of campus. The chapter was previously suspended due to low numbers in 2014.
The average chapter size for sororities at WKU participating in the National Panhellenic Conference is around 140, Pride said. The average chapter size for fraternities in the Interfraternity Council is 50-60 members.
The total male-female ratio at WKU is 40 percent to 59 percent, according to the WKU Fact Book, as well.
Participating in Greek life seems to be a growing trend both nationally and at WKU. Although other universities have recently faced controversy and even banned chapters participating in hazing, parties or alcohol-related deaths, Greek life numbers continue to rise.
The Washington Post reported in 2015 that numbers in the IFC rose from 2005 by an average of four percent, and overall members of the NPHC also continued to grow.
The article attributed national growth to an increasing number of students attending college and an overall want to be connected to a community.
WKU is not helping shoulder any of the burden for construction costs for any of the Greek houses currently under construction. All are individually financed either by alumni and national chapter donations or added fees to membership.
Delta Zeta President Lauren Christman said construction for the house was first announced during the summer of 2018, with construction beginning soon after. She said this will be the first time Delta Zeta, which currently has around 100 active members, will have a permanent place for meetings and for members to live. Chapter meetings are currently held in a chapter room in Meredith Hall.
While the new house won’t have a chapter room, Christman said there will be nine bedrooms sleeping 17 members, a craft room, a meeting room and study spaces.
The house was financed by the national Delta Zeta headquarters, which has a fund to pay for chapter houses at different colleges and universities across the United States.
Christman said dues have increased by $10 a month to help with the house’s mortgage. Once the house is finished, members living there will pay rent, which will cost around $430 a month. Parlor fees will also be applied to all members of the chapter, which allow any member to use the common spaces in the house.
“The house really provides a place we can call a physical home,” Christman said. “If people want to hang out, need help with homework, there’s a place for that. It’s also easier for philanthropy and other events we host throughout the year.”
Rash said the overall construction reflects the attitude students at WKU have toward Greek life.
“Greek life has provided an experience and programming that our students want,” Rash said. “It’s a big contributor to why it is growing and staying so strong here.”
Assistant News Editor Emily DeLetter can be reached at 270-745-6011 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at @emilydeletter.