Multi-million dollar sorority housing projected

Sorority leadership gathered in the Curris Center Monday night to hear several new building proposals from University administration to help facilitate their organizations’ growing membership.

In the 15 years since the sorority housing in Campus Suites was constructed, membership has more than doubled in size, out growing these spaces that serve as meeting spaces for four of the six sororities, as well as the two sorority houses.

Brittany Marchetti, Alpha Omicron Pi chapter adviser, said in addition to the $750 per month they’re paying extra for their housing in Campus Suites, the sorority has to spend more money to rent larger meeting rooms around campus.

“Our meeting room is not big enough for the 143 members that we have,” Marchetti said. “And honestly it’s not big enough for 100 members. The amount we’re spending there is just not worth it anymore.”

Representatives from the other five sororities echoed this sentiment at Monday’s meeting – the culmination of more than a year’s worth of discussion.

Bob Jackson, president of the Murray State University Foundation which owns the sorority housing in Campus Suites, said the University has an invested interest in providing sororities with a new complex.

“It doesn’t matter if it’s the Student Government Association or the countless number of other organizations on campus,” Jackson said. “Involvement in campus life is vitally important to Murray State and so we want to make sure that what (facilities) we have are serving the purpose that they should be.”

WHAT SORORITIES WANT

A 2014 study conducted by architectural and housing consulting firm Luckett & Farley looked into the feasibility of building another sorority housing complex. As part of the study, sorority members filled out a survey to gauge their interest in several possible building designs and locations.

Using this data, administration from Student Affairs, Facilities Management and Finance and Administrative Services discussed the two most popular building choices that would meet both the University’s and sororities’ needs.

In the survey, 37.8 percent of sorority members chose 16th Street, north of Five Points, as their top choice.

Construction would cost an estimated $13.5 million. Each sorority would pay $950 a month in general rent on top of individual room and board fees the 20 members staying in each building would pay.

The second most popular choice, gaining 28 percent of sorority members’ votes, was to build the complex on Hamilton Fields at an estimated cost of $12.17 million. Sororities would continue to pay a general rent of $750 along with room and board.

Both projects, currently titled Sorority Village, would include separate housing facilities. All six would be equipped with a 2,000 square foot meeting room, additional storage space and furnishing similar to Lee Clark and James H. Richmond residential colleges.

Students’ housing scholarships still would apply to Sorority Village.

And only those of sophomore status and higher could live there.

WHAT MUST BE DONE

The rooms’ layout are still undecided and will depend on how much sororities are willing to pay and what additional amenities they might need.

Jackson said Sorority Village could be completed in the next 12 to 15 months with the next six to nine months will be spent finalizing the details of the buildings’ interiors with the sorority representatives.

But before the project moves forward, it needs all six sororities’ approval and confirmation that they could supply 20 residents apiece to live in the building each semester.

While all sororities did pledge their support at the meeting, they require approval from their national organizations as well.

Tressa Ross, Alpha Gamma Delta chapter adviser, said the project looks good so far, but there’s still a lot of work to be done.

“I feel like there have been a lot of ideas put around and everything’s been listened to,” Ross said. “We’ve made visits to other campuses to see what they do and everybody is at a point I think is almost ready to move forward.”

Included in the designs for Sorority Village were two additional housing complexes for two new sororities that might establish chapters at Murray State in the next three years: Phi Mu and Alpha Zeta.

Don Robertson, vice president of Student Affairs, said if Sorority Village is constructed, then the current sorority housing in Campus Suites would be offered to Murray State’s smaller Greek organizations for which the space would still be usable.

 

Story by Ben Manhanke, Chief Videographer