The 17th Avenue residence hall’s emphasis on boosting campus greek life was successful in the dorm’s first semester.
Leaders of the University of Minnesota’s Theta Chi fraternity and Chi Omega sorority chapters said the residence hall’s dedicated space for greek organizations helped the group’s recruitment numbers.
The University’s 2012 Greek Community Strategic Task Force Report planned to use the residence hall as part of a goal to add 1,000 new greeks by 2018. This increase is necessary, the report said, because the University has the smallest greek population in the Big Ten.
Theta Chi President Nicholas Lambert said before the fraternity’s first formal recruitment this fall, it had just 25 members. But after recruiting, Theta Chi nearly doubled in size — largely because of the new dorm.
“Having a permanent space with which to conduct our activities … definitely played a decisive role in [the increase],” he said.
Chi Omega, the sorority leasing space in the dorm, came to the University in the fall and now has 109 members, President Lauren Hicok said. Though the hall wasn’t crucial in the sorority’s membership hike, she said, it was beneficial for new recruits to live in the same space.
Some of the dorm’s residents said its sense of community makes it an attractive option for greeks and non-greeks, but some also feel isolated from the SuperBlock.
“It’s kind of hard to interact with other freshmen because they’re all the way on the other side of campus,” communications freshman Alyssa Lutz said.
Lutz said she intended to join a sorority when she moved into 17th Avenue but later opted not to.
But global studies and biology freshman Sam Schechtman said his floor has grown close, so the geographic isolation of the dorm relative to other dorms isn’t a bad thing. Greek and non-greek students all get along in the dorm, he said.
“We are just one big group that will go eat together and everything, and [there are] people who aren’t greek,” he said.
Lambert said the Theta Chi members are pleased with their dorm. And given this fall’s membership increase, he would like the fraternity to have a presence in the dorm next year.
Nearly 100 sorority members are interested in living in the dorm again in the fall, said Matt Levine, Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life program director. Some sororities have already begun to reserve beds for next semester, he said.
Despite the turnout, Levine said the dorm may not be a permanent solution to the greek population deficit. However, it could be a way for new University students to explore greek life, he said.
“We’re hoping that it becomes at least an opportunity for students,” he said, “not necessarily a norm.”