Face-lift planned for Fraternity Row
Published: Monday, March 5, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, March 6, 2012 01:03
Last week, Fred Pierce, a consultant from Pierce Education Properties, visited the University of Southern Mississippi to take a look at the future of fraternity housing.
A project for new fraternity housing is in the talking phase and has a lot of momentum behind it. It would include rebuilding fraternity housing and providing housing to National Pan-Hellenic fraternities.
"Some of our fraternity houses were built in the 1960s, and they need to be updated," said assistant dean of students for Greek Life Josh Schutts. "Occupancy is different today, and many chapters were bigger when the current houses were built. Across the country we are seeing a trend for newer houses to have more multi-use space and less residential space, and that's what we would want here.
However, a construction date and the means of funding the project have not been set.
"He [Pierce] will tell us how realistic this is and how we should go about funding it," Schutts said. "We want it sooner, but he will be able to figure that out."
The new housing would likely be located where the current fraternity houses are but also continue past the Sigma Chi and Alpha Tau Omega houses.
The company is meeting with focus groups of students in Interfraternity Council, College Panhellenic Council and National Pan-Hellenic Council to get student input.
"This is definitely a step in the right direction," IFC president Keenan Dollar said. "It's a long awaited process that won't happen overnight, but I'm thrilled about the possibility.
"Some chapters may feel this is a disadvantage to get new houses because they have deep ties to the present house, but they need to know that if this happens the new houses will be top-notch and will benefit our Greek system in the long run."
The company has assured students that they will be able to be involved in the drafting and planning process and that fraternity members will have a say in what the houses look like.
"We will allow the men to be very involved in the planning, but some of the houses may look similar," Pierce said. "If you ask a fraternity man what he wants his house to look like, most of the time he will say something brick with big columns."
Another possibility with the project is housing for NPHC sororities such as Zeta Phi Beta and Sigma Gamma Rho, which did not receive housing when The Village was built in 2006.
The project is currently in the research phase, and Pierce and his company are looking at Southern Miss and comparing it to other schools of the same size.
"We are taking USM and looking at what has worked for fraternities at other similar schools," Pierce said.
Pierce Education Properties designs multi-use student housing projects all over the country. They have won many awards for their designs for off campus and on campus housing communities.
Pierce will be back on campus in April to meet with more administrators and students and to take the next step for the future in fraternity housing at Southern Miss.