The Alpha Tau Omega Alumni Association created an online petition to garner support for the Epsilon Upsilon chapter to move into the vacant Sigma Chi house on Fraternity Row.
As of Dec. 21, the petition had received 538 signatures out of the ultimate goal of 1,000.
President of the ATΩ Alumni Association and Southern Miss alumnus Kelly Hales explained his decision to create the petition.
“I started the petition to show the university the kind of support the active chapter has to return to Fraternity Row,” Hales said through email. “The university will benefit from chapters like ATΩ that exhibit honorable and worthy characteristics.”
Supporters of the petition mentioned unity, brotherhood and opportunity as reasons for their support.
Chapter president and junior political science major Caleb Plott said having a larger house would allow the fraternity’s membership to grow.
“With our current housing situation, only five members are allowed to live in the house, which pushes a lot of our members off campus,” Plott said. “Our guys want to live together, so we have been hoping for a bigger house ever since our fraternity moved into this house.”
Sophomore nursing major Franklin Cox lives in the current ATΩ house and said the chapter “has outgrown [their] current living situation.”
“We need a house that can accommodate us for chapter meetings and an outdoor area that can host our philanthropy and social events,” Cox said. “With a larger house, we would be so much closer with one another as a chapter.”
Southern Miss’ ATΩ chapter moved into their current house off Fraternity Row in 2015 due to a drastic decrease in membership. After dipping below the number of members needed to fill the house it previously occupied, the chapter was required to move to the current house.
“The chapter has since seen a surge in recruitment, along with historically high academic success and continued excellence in philanthropic endeavors, and a bigger house on the row is necessary for ATΩ to expand to its greatest potential,” Hales said.
Plott said he believes that the current ATΩ house limits the chapter’s ability to grow.
“We have plateaued in the high twenties in membership—any more than that and our house gets cramped,” Plott said. “We had to move chapter meetings from our house to Scianna Hall, because we cannot fit in [all of our members] comfortably. We feel that this is the most we can have if we remain in this house.”
Members of the Theta Delta chapter of the Sigma Chi fraternity were ordered to vacate their house by Dec. 14, leaving the house empty until further notice.
The vacant Sigma Chi house has 31 beds available. All of the members of the Epsilon Upsilon chapter of ATΩ would be able to live there.