$1.5 Million for Summer ’08 Greek Construction

Jessie Markovetz

Colgate University recently allocated $1.5 million dollars to the campus Greek Organizations in order to continue renovations that began last summer on eight of the ten Greek Life houses. From 2003 to 2005, Colgate purchased all of the Greek properties from former house corporations and since then, according to Assistant Dean and Director of Greek Letter Operations Tim Mansfield, Colgate has remained committed to improving the facilities.

“[We’re dedicated to] improving the safety and facilities of each house without compromising the integrity of them,” Mansfield said.

Holt Architects was hired to examine the houses and decide what aspects of them needed work done in order to ensure safe living and social environments. The result of the consultations done for each house led to construction projects this past summer that installed new staircases and new means of egress out of the basements of several of the houses.

The executive board of each organization, as well as alumni connected with the sororities and fraternities, were made aware of the changes that were going to be made to the houses.

“The renovations were difficult for us to get used to at first,” President of Phi Delta Theta junior Mike Magee said of his and his brothers’ reactions upon returning to school for the fall. “Our initial response to the result was not very positive.”

The new semester has brought on the continuation of planning the next stages of the construction projects. On January 19, before the student body had returned from Winter Break, Colgate staff, Chapter Presidents and their Community Coordinators (CCs) from each Greek Life house and alumni representatives from each Greek Chapter attended a three hour meeting during which they received a full report from Holt Architects on the current house conditions and a renovation plan for the summer, which involves mainly work on the exterior roofing and the installation of “addressable” fire alarms that give the exact location of a fire in a building. Those present also used the meeting to discuss how to make the expected renovations most advantageous for each house.

Even though the students were pleased that they were so well informed about the second stage of renovation, they weren’t as happy with the renovations that are expected to occur after this coming summer; apparently major renovations to all the houses will be taking place over the next few years.

Phi Kappa Tau President junior Harry Jacobs voiced his complaints.

“The tentative plans call for the installation of a second stairway

from the second and third floors, which would reduce the amount of rooms and living space,” Jacobs said.

Jacobs said that he realized Colgate is attempting to reconcile its safety priorities with the desires of the students being affected.

“Ultimately, we look forward to working with Colgate and Holt Architects to find a happy medium which addresses their safety concerns without making changes we feel would be detrimental to the house,” Jacobs said.

Magee shared Jacobs’s sentiments.

“We respect that certain updates must be made, and we trust that Holt Architects will complete the project with the intention of maintaining the charm of our house,” Magee said.

Even though the Colgate chapter of Kappa Kappa Gamma (KKG) does not have a house on campus, the sorority has been involved in the renovation talks, since the renovations have led to the strengthening of the relationship between the Colgate administration and all of the organizations on campus.

“We are glad the school is taking up the cause of renovating the houses and putting money into the organization as a whole,” KKG President junior Kate Kokanovich said. “We hope to have a house in the future, and we think the increased concern of the school for Greek houses will help us acquire one.”

Mansfield said that the investment of such a large amount of should not be seen as unfair or as a prioritization of the Greek Life organizations over any other school group or organization with the allotment of such a large amount of money, rather they are directed at safety issues.

“When students occupy a residence on the Colgate campus, it is our responsibility as the Colgate administration to make sure it and they are safe,” Mansfield said.