Fraternity Housing and Declining Greek Numbers

As Albion College enrollment increases, housing lottery numbers have become even more important when students try to snag a room in their preferred dorm or apartment. Limited room sparked a concern among the student body that this year independent (non-Greek-affiliated) men would be assigned to Greek housing, but after a conversation with Sally Walker, vice president for Student Affairs and dean of students at Albion College, it can be put to rest as just a rumor.

“I just want to reassure you and anyone else that we would engage in vigorous conversations about this because we want everyone to have a good experience, and where you live makes a difference,” said Walker in an interview.

Pointing to the Statement of Relationship Between Albion College and Fraternity and Sorority Chapters, Appendix 16 of the Student Handbook covers the guidelines regulating housing. There, it mentions both the fraternity’s right to house unaffiliated men who meet recruitment standards, but also the college’s right to assign unaffiliated men to fill empty spots in fraternity houses. Students assigned to live in the fraternity could choose to be on the college’s board plan if they wanted.

There has been one adjustment to fraternity housing that may be the cause of such rumors. In residence halls, each room is assigned to two people (four per suite) before students on the waiting list for a single-occupancy room are given one. This ensures the dorms are being filled efficiently. Until now, the fraternities did not have the same process. For the upcoming 2018-2019 school year, they will be expected to register four students to a suite regardless of the number of open rooms.

“That way we’re treating independents and Greek male students the same,” said Walker.

Each house has a capacity of 50 men. With six houses, there are 300 beds, as of last October 128 of those spaces were empty. While spring recruitment numbers typically will fill some of those spaces, decreased recruitment numbers leave more men living in the dorms and emptier fraternity houses.

Many of the fraternities recognize the issue and want to increase their house occupancy total. Over the years interest and involvement in Greek Life certainly fluctuates, but as Till Cook, a junior from Brighton, Michigan, and Tau Kappa Epsilon’s president explained over email, it’s hard to figure out why those numbers change.

Cook explained how each year students have seemed less inclined to join Greek life. This past spring, fraternities had very low numbers compared to past years.

“Looking at composites and talking with alumni it is clear that houses used to be over sixty men in some cases. One of our alumni had a class of over thirty new members the year he joined,” said Cook. “Composites from as recently as five years ago had almost twice the amount of men we do now… Which strikes me as odd, because our parties have been the largest they’ve ever been.”

Although party attendance does not seem to be an issue, other presidents worry this is all some first-year’s know about Greek life. Coleman Schindler, a sophomore from Franklin, Michigan, and Sigma Nu’s president thinks it’s important to highlight Greek Life’s higher GPAs than non-Greek students and their roles in supporting charities.

“The unfortunate truth is that people often base their views of Greek Life on what they’ve seen on pages like Total Frat Move. Others only see the social scenes provided on the weekends and assume that Greek life is just about partying,” said Schindler. “Neither are correct images of what it means to be Greek, and we are all trying to change those false perceptions. We are taking active steps in expanding the number of students that go Greek by reaching out to different groups to diversify our membership.”

While there is not a plan to house independent men in fraternities for the next academic year, increasing Greek numbers as enrollment continues to climb will be necessary to keep the houses for fraternity members only.

Photo by Katie Boni

About Katie Boni 42 Articles
Katie is a senior from St. Clair, Michigan. She is a double major in English and communications who loves reading for fun, performing music, and dogs. She is part of the Honors Program and the Editor-In-Chief of The Albion Review. She looks forward to working in the book publishing field after graduation.

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