Fraternities discuss future of Martin Hall occupancy


If minimum occupancy is not maintained, chapters could lose access to private lounges and study spaces. Photo by Grace McDonald / Antelope Staff

Grace McDonald

University officials are asking fraternities to fill 30-35% of the 113 beds in Martin Hall this fall. But when occupancy agreements were released near the beginning of April, no fraternity presidents signed them.

As a result, the deadline was pushed back to May 5 while fraternities discuss goals with UNK officials.

“As it kind of got going, each chapter started noticing a trend of its members not wanting to live in the house, obviously for different reasons,” said David Reazola, Phi Delta Theta president.

The fraternities proposed three main ways to promote Martin Hall: lowering housing costs, allowing first-year students to live there and designating single rooms. 

The chapter leaders met with the associate vice chancellor of Student Affairs, the vice chancellor for Business and Finance, the senior advisor to the chancellor, fraternity advisers, the Residence Life director, assistant director of Fraternity and Sorority Life and the UNK chancellor. 

“That was the main focus we had — just kind of figure out how we can get UNK and the chancellor and (Residence Life) and all those different people just kind of on board to meet us halfway,” Reazola said.

Of the three requests, the officials OK’d single rooms to juniors and seniors in Martin Hall. 

“So revenue was a factor, but also, I think we want to provide students with a common experience,” said George Holman, the associate vice chancellor of Student Affairs. “And if there’s 20 to 30 to 40 freshmen living on the floor, they’re getting much more shared experience than two or three or four freshmen in one section of the building.”

At full capacity, Martin Hall would hold 60-70% of all fraternity members. But the percentage of members required to live in Martin Hall varies for each chapter. 

The presidents must reach their chapter’s goal, or they’ll have to get a room waiver appealed by Residence Life. Prior to this year, rooms were free for fraternity presidents and $700 cheaper for residents. 

According to the occupancy agreement, “If minimum occupancy is not maintained, the organization may lose their ability to maintain access to their private lounge and study spaces.” 

Holman said university officials want the presidents to live in the dorm, and they hope the occupancy goal will serve as an incentive. 

“That’s why the date got pushed back,” said John Falconer, senior advisor to the chancellor. “We’re trying to help them make this building — this $31 million building that they helped design — make it successful.”

After meeting with officials, Interfraternity Council leaders decided to change a bylaw that requires the chapters to live on campus and be run by Residence Life. 

“That doesn’t mean that they’re planning to move off campus,” said Nathan Platt, Sigma Tau Gamma president. “But the reason we did this is because it gives chapters the option. And Panhellenic and other councils also don’t have that part of the bylaws, so we’re just making it similar to Panhellenic.”

The Panhellenic Council is the governing body for UNK sororities. 

This group recently moved sorority recruitment to Sept. 6. This is different from the past eight years, when sororities have traditionally held recruitment during the week before classes start in the fall.

“I’m optimistic because where (Greek involvement) is declining on other campuses, they’re not making the investment that we are making to support our great community,” Holman said. “So I am still holding out great hope that over time, involvement will increase.”

Mackenzie Welsh, the Panhellenic president, said six years ago, more than 200 students signed up for recruitment during an enrollment boom. In 2021, approximately 140 women went through recruitment week at UNK. In 2022, 103 students participated and of that total, 78 received bids.

“If girls showed up (after recruitment), and they didn’t know what’s happening, then there’s really no way for them to join a chapter, which just is a sucky situation all around,” Welsh said. “So we’re really going to use Blue and Gold Weekend to booth… trying to get as many girls to go through the process as possible.”

The Interfraternity Council also pushed back its recruitment schedule to July 1, instead of the first week of June. 

Fraternities will use a new council dashboard called Phired Up to recruit, and they want to invite potential new members to spend a weekend in Martin Hall for a Greek getaway.

“Then they can experience not only the space that they’ll be in if they join a fraternity, but they have an opportunity to be exposed to all five of our fraternities at once,” said Colton Roberts, Interfraternity Council vice president of recruitment.

Roberts hopes these efforts will help the fraternities ride “a continual wave of recruitment” into the school year.

“We’ve met with (Greek students) where they’re at, and tried to be a resource to help them recruit,” Holman said. “And that’s never ever going to change.”

Until then, they have until May 5 to sign the Martin Hall occupancy agreement. As of May 2, no fraternity presidents have signed.