The Phi Mu house has been empty since the sorority lost its charter during the 2009-2010 school year. New plans for the empty house have been set in motion.
Over summer 2011, the city condemned the current house for Umbrella. While still used this year, Albion College deemed it structurally unstable and unsuitable for use.
The group and the college began to look for a house suitable to use and they settled on the old Phi Mu house. While most sororities own their houses through national executive boards, Albion College owns the Phi Mu house.
The current Umbrella house, located next to Wesley, is situated further from campus than most, thus influencing the member participation. The Phi Mu house is located between the Alpha Chi Omega and Kappa Alpha Theta houses on Cass Street.
“I think it’ll be good to have club closer, and in general more stability, and it’ll be easier for people to find which will do a lot for group membership,” said Cari Drolet, Clarkston senior and vice president of Umbrella. “We’ve had a lot of trouble with that in the past. The current house is in the far corner of the campus and no one really knows that it’s part of the campus.”
The house is the first announcement relating to the 2012-2013 year of diversity. The theme year includes different events highlighting diversity and improvements on diversity around the campus.
“It’s so exciting, too, because it’s a great way to introduce incoming freshman,” said Brian Weiss, Livonia junior and former treasurer for Umbrella. “The mission statement of the Umbrella club is centered on maintaining organizations that allow people of minority backgrounds to feel comfortable and be in a space where they don’t have to worry about external pressures. I think moving the club to a more spacious, nicer house will probably expand on that.”
In a symbolic move for the organization, current members hope for greater campus involvement at the new location.
“It’s really been an awkward coincidence that all of the diversity groups are in this corner of the campus where no one knows,” said Harriet Groenleer, Grand Rapids junior. “We really feel like it’ll help us connect with the campus which we feel like has been a big challenge.”
With renovations and clearance from the college, the house is set to open for events in the fall.
Photo by Ben Iwen, staff photographer[Edited Mar 29]