Sororities' construction plans remain unclear

by Amelia Acosta | 1/31/11 11:00pm

Although there is no definite timeline for the construction of physical plants for Alpha Phi sorority and Kappa Delta sorority, the College is currently identifying sites for the future physical plant of Alpha Phi, Kristi Clemens, director of Greek Letter Organizations and Society, said in an interview with The Dartmouth.

Specific information regarding the construction statuses of the physical plants will be available by the end of Winter term, according to Clemens.

Both houses are currently waiting for the Board of Trustees to approve funding, zoning and construction plans, according to Panhellenic Council President Anna Sonstegard '11. Sonstegard is also a member of Alpha Phi.

The Board is scheduled to meet on Feb. 4 and Feb. 5.

KD which came to the College in May 2009, three years after Alpha Phi must wait for the administration to take action regarding Alpha Phi's physical plant before proceeding with its own housing developments, according to Sonstegard. Of the eight sororities on campus, KD and Alpha Phi and the only two without houses.

"Though there are no rules set in stone, houses that have been in question for a longer period of time should have priority," Sonstegard said.

Although the Board initially planned to discuss funding for Alpha Phi's physical plant during its Spring meeting last year, budgetary issues took precedence, Sonstegard said.

"[The Board] has a lot of things to prioritize, and there were things that fell above sorority housing on their agenda in terms of funding decisions," she said.
The Board has not yet announced how the construction of physical plants will be funded, according to Clemens.

"The process is slow due to mindfulness of the College budget situation and the general length of time it takes an individual to secure the proper permits and approval from Hanover," Clemens said. "I'm just getting to the very beginnings of the very huge picture of Dartmouth financials, so I can't say where the money will come from or when it will pay out."

Alpha Phi and KD national representatives are waiting for College officials to determine whether funding for the physical plants will come from the College or private sources, according to KD national chapter Housing Director Cindy Mize.

"Any housing decisions at this point are in the College's hands, and Alpha Phi says the same thing," Mize said. "From the very beginning, the situation was described to me as being the College's decision, and so they will need to take action before we do."

Clemens said she asked members of Alpha Phi to develop a housing board comprised of two or three members per class in order to begin a conversation about "what their ideal house would look like."

Clemens denied rumors that Alpha Phi and KD are experiencing difficulties securing College approval for their houses.

"Alpha Phi had money that the College set aside to build their house, but when the College went into a budget crisis, all house construction projects went on freeze," Clemens said.

The College also needs to resolve several logistical issues before building can begin, Clemens said.

"When the [Office of Planning, Design and Construction] is looking to find a space for a new house, they have a number of things to consider including having a conversation with the town, zoning permits and other matters of construction," she said. "It's also important to talk with the organizations to see their needs, find out what's important to them and figure out where on campus we can fit something like that."

GLOS and Panhell are committed to providing housing for sororities on campus, according to Clemens.

"I think for all women on campus it sends a really strong message to have female-dominated social spaces on campus," she said.

Creating physical plants for Alpha Phi and KD has been an important part of Clemens' agenda since she took office this past summer, she said. "We talk about this a lot, as it's both symbolically and realistically important to have more of these spaces in terms of impacting sisterhood," Clemens said. "[KD] and Alpha Phi have done a phenomenal job of attracting women with or without a house due to the leadership support of the national and strong sisterhood. With that being said, it'd be nice to have a big common room and a shared kitchen on a day-to-day basis."

Building physical plants for the two sororities is crucial to respond to the growing interest in sorority membership among women on campus, according to Sonstegard.

"Results from fall recruitment show that there is a lot of interest in sororities and that more girls than ever are participating in the process," she said. "Girls having a physical plant to strengthen their sense of community is an incredible asset that all the fraternities have and all the sororities currently do not."

Staff writer Marina Villeneuve contributed reporting to this article.