Greek life at SDSU is looking to size up.
The community is experiencing growing pains with its current space: they need more space to expand housing opportunities for its chapters.
The SDSU Greek community expects to see a growth in membership within the next few years. In response to this, members hope to expand their Greek Village along 20th Street.The expansion will develop near the the intersection of Jackrabbit Avenue and 8th Street, just south of the big east lot. One-story family living spaces are currently where the unofficial expansion is planned.
About one year ago, a previous development plan to expand 20th St. north and into a cul-de-sac was canceled. This plan would have expanded 20th St. into McCrory Garden’s tree arboretum, an educational garden of trees.
Multiple voices, including arboretum designer and former SDSU instructor Norm Evers, were against this expansion direction and advocated for the preservation of the arboretum.
“The decision to not do that [first expansion plan] was relative to wanting to maintain McCrory and make sure it was protected in one integral unit,” said Doug Wermedal, associate vice president of Student Affairs.
The new expansion plan will not break up any gardens.
According to President Barry Dunn, these living spaces are “not very nice facilities” and there is a higher demand for more family living spaces on campus. Because of this, university officials plan on upgrading these facilities to larger, denser apartment-like living spaces.
Greek Life has doubled its membership within the past five years, according to Alan Haarstad, Greek Life adviser.
One sorority, Alpha Xi Delta, has “almost tripled” its membership since 2013, said Emily Pederson, Alpha Xi Delta president.
These numbers are evidence of not only a want, but a need, for a Greek Village expansion, according to Pederson.
Expanding and creating a greater location continuity creates a “visible representation of community and the lifelong membership of being in a fraternity [or sorority],” according to Haarstad.
Despite Haarstad’s wish for continuity in the Greek Village, the new expansion will break up Greek Village into the original street and the new land plots. Private land with retail stores and restaurants, such as Buffalo Wild Wings on its property separates the two. University officials do not have any plans or proposals to buyout the section of land between the two Greek Village rows.
The expansion does not have a guaranteed timeframe to be completed.
Andrew Puetz, president of Sigma Alpha Epsilon, believes a larger Greek Village will improve their image and bring community benefits to the table.
“Traditionally, when I go to larger institutions with larger and more established Greek programs, a larger Greek community can really be unifying,” Puetz said. “I think visual aid of seeing houses is always a great selling point of wanting to join an organization like this … it helps bridging the gap to how people think of fraternities and actually seeing it and ties in that vision.”
About one quarter of this land will be reserved for Greek life housing. The rest of the land will likely be used for the larger family living space facilities, Wermedal, said.
“That [current space’s] density is not a good use … that corner is begging for something more,” Wermedal said.
Also according to Wermedal, there have been a number of companies interested in developing this space already. He hopes official assessments will be made by the end of October for what will be developed.
Families living in the current one-story facilities, 88 people total, are seeking affordable housing accompanied by low transportation costs to and from campus, Dunn said. Replacing these living spaces is an “important step” to responding to campus needs.
“I think the family housing we have right now is very dated and not very functional; they’re not energy efficient, they’re 50 years old, so I think there’s a real pragmatic part of the decision,” Dunn said about expanding and tearing down the old living spaces.
Alongside needed updates to living spaces, Wermedal and Dunn believe new living spaces could improve the “curb appeal” to this entrance to campus.
According to Dunn, the impressions that campus entrances leave on prospective students and faculty is “very important” to the university.
Pederson hopes this expansion will advance the SDSU Greek life community in the right direction.
“We present a unified front if we’re all together,” Pederson said.