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Fraternities work to fill Martin Hall for fall 2023

Andrew Howard enters the Sigma Tau Gamma chapter room. Photo by Kolton Maturey / Antelope Staff

UNK’s new Fraternity and Sorority Life housing has caused concerns among some students. These revolve around housing price increases, some fraternity chapters considering moving off campus and fraternity presidents needing to fill beds in Martin Hall. 

Housing Price Increases

The new housing has led to increased housing rates for students in 2023 who will live at Martin Hall and the soon-to-be sorority building.

In 2022, upperclassmen fraternities and sororities housed in University Residence North or South paid a housing rate of $2,733 per semester. This upcoming fall, the rate will rise to $3,433 for returning students wishing to live in Martin Hall or the future sorority building.

The total construction costs for Martin Hall were $14,059,384. The total project sum for all the new FSL housing was $32,646,000. To meet project costs, UNK drew $13 million from capital improvement reserves and $19,646,000 from internal loan funds. 

These increased prices for housing are meant to cover expenses for the new Fraternity and Sorority Life Housing. They also fund campus amenities like the Nebraskan Student Union services such as UNK Police Department. 

The rates will be used to improve other housing on campus. George Holman, associate vice chancellor, said the revenue of these housing rates will cover “cosmetic” and “structural” renovations in Randall Hall. The university also plans on replacing the mattresses in dorms across campus. Lastly, students can stay in their housing during breaks by paying $50, instead of having to leave like in the past. 

Martin Hall residents’ concerns about the building 

Fraternity chapters are still adapting to the available spaces in their new home. 

“I think the majority of the complaints are probably about the chapter room sizes and that there’s too many residential rooms,” said Joseph Hiatt, Interfraternity Council president. “Some of the chapter rooms are a bit tight for our chapters to host meetings and rituals.”

Todd Gottula, director of Communications and Marketing, said Martin Hall’s chapter rooms are 10 feet smaller compared to the ones in University Residence North and South. Some chapters don’t have enough space in these chapter rooms and use other spaces on campus to hold their activities. Fraternities don’t have to pay fees to use other rooms on campus like the Antelope or Ponderosa rooms in the Nebraskan Student Union. 

Hiatt said that some chapters have not had their work orders filled for the lounges. This includes requests for putting decorations up in the common spaces. He said this is because of the lack of space in the lounges. 

Gottula said the moving process is part of why there have been long wait times for work orders.

“It isn’t that orders are being ignored. It’s that we have all these big ticket items, moving furniture and getting the relocation and move to occur,” Gottula said. “And then all of a sudden stuff kind of creeps up on everybody.”

Trying to fill occupancy

Gottula said UNK is concerned that the number of predicted Martin Hall residents is lower than expected. Administrators want to work with fraternities to raise occupancy in Martin Hall. 

Fraternity chapter presidents must recruit 30-35% of returning members to live in Martin Hall in order to receive a single room, and board, at no charge. 

Tanner Ruda, president of Sigma Phi Epsilon, said their chapter has to meet 40% of their current chapter size for next year. The chapter has nine members living in Martin Hall now, and they need to have 21 by next semester. Ruda believes the Sigma Phi Epsilon president’s room costs will be waived if the chapter gets 50% of that number filled, meaning 11 members signed up to live in the hall next semester. 

Holman said UNK is working with fraternities to fill the building. 

“We’re just trying to figure out a reasonable number to start getting those spots occupied,” Holman said. “We want this to be a community for our returning members.”

Some chapters considering moving off campus

These concerns have led some fraternity chapters to discuss changing a rule within UNK’s Interfraternity Council. In doing this, fraternities would no longer be required to have their housing on campus. This process would involve a majority vote by the delegates of each chapter to decide if the bylaw should be revised.

If any fraternity and sorority chapters decided to relocate off campus, there would be consequences from the university.  

“The university would not be supportive of a chapter that officially locates off campus or builds its own structure,” said Jon Watts, vice chancellor for Business and Finance. “We provide housing and support to FSL chapters, which probably lessens insurance risk and increases the safety and security of their chapters.” 

These chapters would no longer be considered affiliated with UNK. This means they would not be allowed to use the university’s logo in any promotional materials. They would not be permitted to participate in professional development opportunities, including professional support provided by the FSL Office. These chapters would not receive any funding or have activities that are reserved for recognized student organizations.

Finding a Solution

Gottula said UNK is focusing on addressing any challenges and hearing what issues might be preventing students from living in the new housing.

“We’re going to continue to have this open communication with the students living there and we will look for solutions to any issues that keep coming up that seem to be unresolved,” Gottula said. “We want our students to be happy and comfortable in their living spaces.” 

Watts believes this renovation was necessary to support students in Greek Life.  

“We wanted to invest in our fraternities and sororities and give them housing they can be proud of,” Watts said. “What we ask in return is for a commitment that students — in sophomore, junior and senior year would consider strongly consider living in our housing.”

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