Year in Review: Top features #3

GVL / Emily Frye
Two of the newly built Greek houses

GVL / Emily Frye Two of the newly built Greek houses

Maddie Forshee

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Originally published 9/4/14

Since last year, there has been a new addition to off-campus apartment housing in Allendale. Grand Valley State University now has its very own Greek row.

In just one year, six new Greek houses were built on Pierce Street near Copper Beech Townhomes, marking the beginning of a transition for GVSU Greek life to a more central location in Allendale.

The new houses hold five sororities (Alpha Omicron Pi, Alpha Sigma Tau, Phi Sigma Sigma, Gamma Phi Beta and Sigma Kappa) and one fraternity (Alpha Sigma Phi). The houses, known as Grand Village, were move-in ready on Aug. 22, the Friday before classes. Despite the late move-in, spirits remain high for the new housing.

“They’re beautiful inside,” said Kaitlyn Scholtens, president of Alpha Omicron Pi. “(The house) fits our needs better right now. I like it a lot.”

There has long been a demand for a proper Greek row, according to Interfraternity Council President Tyler Dunham. When the owner of Campus West, Allen Hoffman, came forward and wanted to work with GVSU to build a Greek row, he was met with a lot of support from the fraternities and sororities.

Grand Village is a work in progress; now that the first phase is done, phase two is in the works. The next part of construction will include four more houses, which the four remaining sororities (Phi Mu, Alpha Sigma Alpha, Delta Zeta and Sigma Sigma Sigma) will fill up. There have been talks of a phase three being done to eventually house the rest of GVSU’s fraternities, but nothing is set in stone.

Financial ability and the ability of each chapter to fill the houses were the two deciding factors regarding which sororities and fraternities got houses in the first phase of construction. If a chapter knew it had those abilities, it voted on whether to take part in phase one or wait until phase two was completed. Some chapters that live off campus have previous leases with their buildings so they couldn’t break that contract.

Funding the construction of Grand Village was another issue as well. According to Dunham, most chapters reached out to their alumni bases for preliminary funding for the project. Now, according to Scholtens, rent has been raised so the houses can be maintained properly – making it more equivalent to other off-campus apartment housing rather than cheaper, on-campus housing that most of the chapters were in before.

Prior to Grand Village being built, there was on-campus housing specifically for Greek life. They are known as Grand Valley Apartments and housed five sororities and one fraternity. Since Grand Village has been built, all but two sororities have moved out of GVA. The buildings were remodeled and are already being used for upperclassman housing.

Anywhere from 24 to 48 students can live in one building in GVA, which is a contrast to the maximum of 30 students in one house in Grand Village. Even with the construction of Grand Village taking place so quickly, GVA has been put to good use by providing another on-campus style of housing for GVSU’s growing student population.

“It’s kind of a win-win,” said Andy Beachnau, the associate vice provost for Student Affairs and Director of Housing. “(Greek life) got nicer, better housing and (GVSU) is able to accommodate more students.”

With the transition away from Grand Valley Apartments, which have housed the sororities since they came to campus, there have been some mixed feelings, both bittersweet and excited.

“We may be losing a little bit of our traditions,” Scholtens said. “But we’ll start new ones.”