The first of three focus group meetings about the future of Greek housing at the College of William and Mary was held Tuesday night, with only three students in attendance.
Associate Director of Student Activities Anne Arseneau ’89 said the poor turnout was not unexpected.
“I’m not totally surprised, but I would hope that we have more in the future,” she said. “We provided the message in Greek Digest, but there were some technical difficulties and it went out later than I think [Council for Fraternal Affairs President Ian Fenwick ’10] had hoped it would go … It’s not really symptomatic of anything. It’s easy to think others will respond, and that you don’t have to.”
Arseneau met with members of the Delta Chi and Kappa Sigma fraternities to discuss their ideal fraternity housing design.
“We’re just trying to compile lots of conversations about what people don’t like about what we currently have,” she said. “We’re collecting feedback from constituent groups for the ideal setup of fraternity housing. What would we do differently?”
Arseneau asked the fraternity members questions ranging from what they thought the underlying purpose of fraternity housing was to what design elements would be present in a perfect situation.
Fenwick said that future Greek housing must provide individual buildings for each fraternity with an individual building.
“Obviously if we’re actually going to think about building different places, one thing that comes up a lot is separate buildings — separate houses, not fraternity stairwells,” Fenwick said.
Fenwick said that separate buildings would alleviate the security problems fraternities currently face by sharing entrances and stairwells.
“For entrances for the actual building, I’d say two entrances,” he said. “That really will help mitigate the risk-management problem. Right now, to get into a unit, you don’t just have a front and a back door; you can also come in from all different sides. Two entrances — one in front and one in back — would be best.”
Delta Chi House Manager Ethan Smith ’13 said that the goal of fraternity housing should be to build bonds between brothers.
“I think fellowship is one of the bases of fraternities,” Smith said. “It’s absolutely vital to keeping a pledge class strong and to bringing alumni back.”
Although housing is important to creating unity within a chapter, Smith said that the units failed in other ways.
“A lot of people can’t — or won’t — live in a unit,” he said. “The units were built in the 60s, when membership was around 70 to 80 members. I don’t think we’re ever going to see that again in terms of fraternity size.”
According to Arseneau, one option the College could pursue is fraternity housing of different sizes.
“The units right now are [occupied by] around 35 people, and that’s the one option we have,” Arseneau said. “Would the ideal have a set number, or would it have a range of numbers available? Would the ideal scenario be to have a seven-person option, a 12-person option, a 15-person option and a 10-person option? Or would it be the opposite — that we would have fifteen 20-person options?”
Arseneau said that the focus group’s present Greek students should take advantage of a forum to voice their opinions on the current state of Greek affairs.
“I think having the CAP [Coalition Assessment Project] experience provided an opportunity,” Arseneau said. “Everybody else thinks someone else will be the one to voice the feedback. But remember, this is just the first of three.”
Another focus group session was held last night in the Colony Room of the Sadler Center.
However, the meeting was unattended by students.
An additional focus group will be held Feb. 18 at 6 p.m. in the York Room.