The Colgate Scene
January 2005

Residential education progress
Sale of Greek-letter houses proceeds
 

By early December, alumni leaders of seven fraternities and sororities had agreed to terms that would provide for the sale of their houses to the university, as described in A New Vision for Residential Education, a comprehensive plan adopted by the Board of Trustees in spring 2003.

Sale of the houses is subject to confirmation by the members of the individual alumni corporations that own the properties. Greek-letter organizations that are in good standing and that complete the sale of their properties by March 15 will be allowed to continue housing students in fall 2005 as they always have. Including the two active sororities and one fraternity that do not own houses, ten fraternities and sororities could be recognized on campus in fall 2005, if all the sales are confirmed.

President Rebecca Chopp said the sale of the houses "provides an opportunity for fraternities and sororities to refocus on their founding values. Once again, as they did in returning to campus earlier this fall to help students organize for the year (Scene, November 2004), alumni leaders put the best interests of students first. I look forward to working with alumni and students as Greek-letter life continues as an important residential option on campus."

Studies leading to the residential education plan found that fraternities and sororities could be better integrated with the university's mission if Colgate owned and supported the Greek-letter houses in the same way it supports other student residences. In a December e-mail to the campus community, trustee Chair John Golden '66 said the plan -- which incorporates many areas of student life outside the classroom (Scene, September 2003) -- "is designed to enhance Colgate's educational experience by offering a choice of living options where students are expected to build self-governing communities that support the educational goals and mission of the university."

During the past year the university has worked with the individual alumni corporations that own or control Greek-letter houses to negotiate purchase of the properties. A committee of trustees and university administrators consulted collectively and individually with alumni house leaders to negotiate fair and reasonable terms of sale.

The fraternities and sororities that have agreed to sell their houses are Beta Theta Pi, Delta Upsilon, Gamma Phi Beta, Kappa Alpha Theta, Phi Delta Theta, Sigma Chi, and Theta Chi. Delta Delta Delta and Kappa Kappa Gamma sororities and Phi Kappa Tau fraternity do not own properties, and the university will be working with them on housing arrangements. Phi Gamma Delta, which has not had an active undergraduate chapter at Colgate since 1989, plans to donate its house to the university.

Greek-letter undergraduate organizations in good standing are full participants in the Broad Street Community Council. Supported by a newly created position of assistant dean, the council works to identify resource needs and develop residential programs in junior and senior housing. In the years ahead, Greek-letter organizations will identify members of their own houses to receive training as community coordinators, working with chapter officers in the self-governing Broad Street residences.

Each Greek-letter alumni organization with a recognized undergraduate chapter will be represented on a new Fraternity/Sorority Alumni Initiative to be appointed and chaired by President Chopp. That group -- which will also include a trustee, a member of the board of directors of the Colgate Alumni Corporation, and senior administrators -- will arrange mentoring programs, identify fundraising needs and strategies, promote communication between Colgate and Greek-letter alumni, discuss facilities, and promote alumni leadership.

Thomas Dempsey '72, president of the Delta Upsilon alumni corporation, said: "It took some time to get my head around this idea. As an alumni corporation we had always had two purposes: first was to mentor undergraduates and perpetuate the opportunity for them to be DUs, and second was to maintain the physical plant. When it was made clear we couldn't do both, it came down to which was most important. To the other members of the DU executive board and me, most important was allowing future generations of Colgate students to participate in DU. Now we will be explaining that decision to our alumni members and asking for their vote. I'm optimistic, based on earlier questionnaire responses, that we can perpetuate DU's presence at Colgate."

Speaking on behalf of his fellow trustees, Golden said, "The alumni leaders have stepped forward and worked hard over these past months to achieve the kinds of change that will benefit undergraduates, their houses, and the university. Greek-letter organizations that operate in accordance with Colgate's mission and policies can be a positive option in the residential education of Colgate students, and we are eager to work with current and future students to realize that goal."

The fraternities that have chosen to retain ownership of their properties will not be allowed to house students next fall, and the university will withdraw recognition of their undergraduate chapters in summer 2005. Alpha Tau Omega, Delta Kappa Epsilon, and Kappa Delta Rho did not reach agreement on the sale of their properties. — James Leach

(Regular updates on residential education are posted on the Colgate website: www.colgate.edu)
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