|Taking part in a ground-breaking ceremony for Western’s Greek Village are, from left to right, student Courtney Sandler; Joan MacNeill of Western’s board of trustees; student Jared Wilkins; Stephen Woody, president of the Western Carolina University Research and Development Corp.; Robert Caruso, vice chancellor for student affairs; Chancellor John Bardo; and Jim Moore of Western’s Research and Development Corp.|
|Student Courtney Sandler; Robert Caruso, vice chancellor for student affairs; and student Jared Wilkins break ground together.|
CULLOWHEE - With the rumble of construction equipment in the background, students and administrators at Western Carolina University broke ground Tuesday, Dec. 9, for the Greek Village, a new 252-bed housing complex for many of the university’s fraternities and sororities.
The event was more ceremonial than the typical ground-breaking activity, because ground for the Greek Village technically had been broken prior to Tuesday’s ceremony. Construction crews began grading and site preparation work two weeks ago for the housing complex in an effort to complete the project by fall semester 2004. The ceremony was held at the campus picnic area, across Cullowhee Creek from the site of the Greek Village.
An $11.4 million project funded through student room fees, the complex is designed to provide modern housing for 17 fraternities and sororities that currently either occupy certain wings or floors of residence halls, or have off-campus houses.
Chancellor John W. Bardo said the Greek Village is just one example of Western’s increased emphasis on student life outside of the classroom, an effort that also includes an expanded A.K. Hinds University Center opening in January, a major indoor recreation center now on the drawing boards, and improvements to athletics facilities.
“We are trying to increase the quality of student life at Western. We want to give our students the potential of having an even more vibrant social life while on our campus,” Bardo said, reminding the crowd that fraternity and sorority organizations have a long history at the university. “The importance of Greek-letter organizations on this campus is not changing. They always have been important, and they will continue to remain important.”
Joan MacNeill, a member of Western’s board of trustees, said the Greek Village was designed with significant input from members of student organizations. “That makes good sense because, after all, they are the ones who will be living here,” MacNeill said. “They are the ones who will be making use of the many amenities this complex will offer. They are the ones who, by this time next year, will be calling this place home and forming the friendships - the bonds of fraternity brotherhood and sorority sisterhood - that will last a lifetime.”
The village is being built by Affinity Housing LLC, a limited liability corporation managed by the Western Carolina University Research and Development Corp. “It is vital that we have the housing necessary for Western’s growing student body,” said Stephen Woody, president of the Research and Development Corp. “These chapter houses are another piece of tangible evidence of the growth of Western. They are another important step in the university’s efforts to raise the bar.”
Bob Caruso, vice chancellor for student affairs, called the beginning of work on the Greek Village a momentous occasion for Greek life at Western. “This is going to be an innovative and beautiful complex,” Caruso said. “Without question, this is the most exciting project ever undertaken on behalf of our Greek community.”
Senior Courtney Sandler, a member of Phi Mu sorority, said the complex would bring together a variety of Greek-letter organizations currently scattered on and off the campus. “This represents a wonderful opportunity to unite,” said Sandler, president of the Panhellenic Council, a campus inter-sorority organization, “It will bring us together and advance sorority and fraternity life for years to come. It transitions us from simply being Greek to being part of a Greek community.”
Senior Jared Wilkins, a member of the Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity, and president of the National Pan-Hellenic Council, lamented the fact he will graduate this spring, before the new facility is complete. “I challenge you students who will be living there to take good care of your new living facilities, because this place will be unique,” said Wilkins, president of the National Pan-Hellenic Council, a campus group composed of representatives of historically African-American Greek-letter organizations. “There will be no other place like it in North Carolina.”
The complex will feature 16- and 20-bed units for larger student organizations, with smaller groups to be part of a multi-organizational building consisting of three- and four-bedroom apartments. Each house will have a parlor, residential kitchen, public bathroom, lockable storage space and state-of-the-art technology. A centrally located commons building will provide meeting rooms, reception space and laundry facilities for all residents of the village. The commons building also will house an apartment and office for the village director.