Greek organizations go way back — probably to the time when the members were actually all Greeks — but their animal house reputations are a more recent phenomon in popular culture. I’m not sure if movies mirrored or inspired those behaviors, but regardless, toga parties have become an irrepressible part of campus life. Well, actually in Kent’s case, an irrepressible part of off campus life since most of the fraternity’s have opted to not be located on university grounds. That’s not necessarily unusual but what’s missing here is the fabled fraternity row — where all the fraternity’s are lined up down a main street. It’s usually an impressive street to drive down full of iconic old houses and bold Greek letters. It’s also a great way to keep the non-Greek residents buffered a bit from the Greek lifestyle. That’s the premise behind one developer’s efforts here in Kent to create a new Greek Village in partnership with the University.
Unfortunately the Greek organizations in Kent tend to be spread around town and in some cases they are mixed in with single family homes. And that’s probably not such a great thing since the lifestyle behaviors of these two segments of our community are often a bit incompatible. It’s not so much that one is right or wrong, it’s more a case of being at the wrong place at the wrong time.
That’s where New Sigma Capital Partners hopes to fill a need in Kent. This Akron based developer has been working with Kent State to create a Greek Village on campus. The development site has room for 6 new Greek homes, the first of which is the new Sigma Nu house. It’s a great location on West Campus Center Drive directly across from the Wellness Center and more importantly it’s not next store to a single family home.
I’ll admit that a new house may not always have the same architectural character as the grand old houses but what it gives up in styling it more than makes up in safety for the students that live there. Full sprinkler systems and modern electrical wiring are the best defense against possible fires. Not to mention all the modern amenities like toilets that work, roofs that don’t leak and heating and cooling systems that actually work without breaking the bank in utility bills.
The developer is investing in the idea that creating a village atmosphere will provide the kind of critical mass among the fraternities that will make these houses the living quarters of choice among the student body. The students, their parents and the university adminstrators can sleep better at night knowing that they are safe and sound. And their old neighbors can also sleep better at night since they don’t have to deal with all the late night activities that are common at fraternity houses.
Despite their reputations to the contrary, the fraternities and sororities tend to be some of the least problematic parts of those neighborhoods that mix students and residents. In many respects, fraternities are governed by their charters and a set of rules that help make them more civil. More typical late night problems tend to occur at rogue student rentals that only rely on their conscience (and ocassionally the police) to influence their behavior.
Plus, as demonstrated this weekend at the annual Greek Lip Sync event (which I attended) these organizations are devoted to good causes and they work to raise money for charities that really need their help. Beside being some interesting entertainment, the Lip Sync event brought in more than $7,000 that will go to hearing and sight impairment agencies.
Way to go Greeks!