Four new sorority houses to be built in 2011

Several greek houses around campus are being worked on or getting face lifts. but, pictured here, the foundation and wall reinforcements for the new Alpha Tau Omega house. / CW | Jerrod Seaton

In keeping with the University’s large-scale growth over the last several years, many greek organizations have been experiencing unprecedented size increases.

Gentry McCreary, the University’s director of greek affairs, said the greek community has doubled in size since 2003. While fraternity and sorority populations are growing, McCreary said, only one new sorority has been added since 2003.

“Our sororities are getting too big,” McCreary said. “We have sororities that have doubled in size [over the last 7 years]. Some sororities [will] have over 300 members this fall.”

Sarah Suggs, president of the Panhellenic Association and a senior majoring in accounting, also said sororities have been growing.

“1600 to 1700 girls are in rush this year,” Suggs said. “It’s one of the largest [rushes] in the nation.”

Suggs said she thinks the growth in the UA greek system, especially during current economic conditions, is reflective of the quality of greek life at the University.

“I think that girls are willing to put aside many other wants and needs in order to accommodate the funds to be in a sorority,” Suggs said. “The bonds that you make with girls and the relationships will last you a lifetime. They see the sorority and the sisterhood as an investment. It’s a strategic move.”

“I think it’s a testament to the strength of the system that they’ve [fraternities and sororities] been able to grow throughout the recession,” McCreary said.

McCreary also said the growth caused a need for more houses to decrease the sizes of the individual sororities.

Four new sorority houses are planned for construction beginning Fall 2011, according to McCreary. Sororities already on campus will have the first bids for the new houses, and new sororities wanting to be established on campus would then bid for the vacated houses.

The new houses will be built behind the President’s Mansion where Wilson, Byrd, Parker-Adams and New Hall are currently located. The demolition of those buildings was approved by the board of trustees in June.

“There are criteria for the new houses,” McCreary said. “Academic performance, demonstrated need and financial ability.”

Interested sororities will have the opportunity to apply for the new housing lots in October.

Fraternities, like sororities, have expanded in recent years. Pi Kappa Alpha voted to build a new house in November 2007, according to John Murdock, president of the house corporation for Pi Kappa Alpha.

“We were going to do a big renovation project and just ended up deciding to build a new one,” said Murdock.

“We broke ground in April, 2008,” Murdock said. “There was a pretty big drainage project that had to be taken care of before we started construction.”

Pi Kappa Alpha chose to build a new house partly to match the University’s increasing quality standards for campus housing, according to Murdock.

For McCreary, the new fraternity house is a mark of pride for the University.

“It’s one of the nicest fraternity houses you’ll find anywhere,” McCreary said.

  • Smokey

    The CW never manages to publish an article without a typo. So comical. And for some reason… It ALWAYS seems to be in a Title or a Caption, the two parts of the paper read most. WOW.

  • Lindsay

    Greek life at Bama is still segregated and trapped in 1962. All the crazy building won’t mean anything until black girls can join right alongside white girls. This isn’t about political correctness, it’s about relevance. Show us you aren’t dysfunctional, and we’ll get excited about your mansions. (FYI – I’m proud to be Greek – but I’m not proud we can’t be HONEST about our issues.)

  • Katelyn

    Lindsay,

    Though I participated in Greek life my four years on campus, I do agree with you. The system does need to be freed of the archaic belief system of segregation. While I was on campus, one of the sororities had the guts to offer a black girl a place in their house and sisterhood. I was proud of them and wished my house and all others would look to them as an example, but unfortunately the reaction the other houses had (both sororities and fraternities) was the opposite of what I felt. The house that possessed the backbone and courage to perform this scandalous (but, in my mind, much applauded) act was basically ostracized within the Greek community (a sad truth, I know).

    However, the segregation of the Greek organizations is also a bit of an example of double standards on racism in the world today. While it is more restrictive on blacks, I, as a white girl, would not be able to walk over to the AKA house (or any of the other traditionally black house) and ask to join.

    Hopefully the Greeks on campus now will see how wrong it is to deny someone entrance into their sisterhood/brotherhood based solely on their skin color, religion (yes, religion is very much discriminated against as well), ethnicity, etc. and make a change to the system (for the better) so it can truly grow and thrive. People need to realize that their house may be missing a keystone of a person that will strengthen their house’s bond just because they refuse entrance to someone of certain religious beliefs and/or skin color.

    I too wish that the Greek system would open their eyes and free themselves of their constant state of denial and truly recognize not only that there is a problem, but also how to remedy this issue. I hope that more houses are able to follow in the footsteps of that courageous sorority and start the unification and desegregation of the Greek system. Who knows, maybe they will start making progress during the soon-approaching fall rush?

  • Amy Alumna

    But how many African-American girls go out for recuitment? 1 or 2…or none. And those who are interested will tell you that they are pressured by other African-Americans to join only the historically black sororities.

  • Jamie

    Amy,
    Of course there are not many African-American girls that are going to go to rush- they know that the UA Greek system is segregated. I was part of the Greek system in 84-88 and am horrified to see that this system is still segregated. It’s embarrassing. To return 22 years later and not see any progress is very disappointing.