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No Greek Tragedy: ASU's New Greek Leadership Village Nearly Full Despite Fears

Members of ASU's chapter of Chi Omega sorority pose at the newly constructed Greek Leadership Village.EXPAND
Members of ASU's chapter of Chi Omega sorority pose at the newly constructed Greek Leadership Village.
Macy Graver

Despite fears and criticism that Arizona State University would not be able to fill rooms in the new Greek Leadership Village in Tempe, the concept apartment complex so far looks like a hit.

University officials told Phoenix New Times last week that 780 students moved into the $72 million complex this month for the start of the fall semester, providing a home to 12 sororities and 15 fraternities.

The expansive complex at Rural and Terrace roads is composed of 27 townhouse-style residencies that can accommodate up to 950 students. Each unit holds between 19 to 41 beds.

The 27 Greek organizations currently occupying the GLV have a memorandum of understanding to occupy their chapter homes for a four-year period, according to ASU's media relations office. Individual resident license agreements are for one academic year.

While nothing like a traditional Greek Row the likes of Animal House, the communal aspects of Greek life are evident within the Village grounds. Sliding glass doors, decorated with multicolored Greek letters, face an inner courtyard. Furnished patios hold string lights representing sorority and fraternity colors. Flagpoles whip in the wind showing off letters from the Greek alphabet. Each home clearly signifies the personality of the organization living within.

“I always say it’s like a little Greek neighborhood,” said Tatum Biciolis, president of Chi Omega. “You walk out your door and there are people walking around all the time.”

Biciolis said 39 sorority members currently live in the Chi Omega house, but getting that number of members to move to the GLV was not an easy feat.

“We really did have to convince people to move in,” Biciolis said.

One concern for members was sharing the communal bathrooms on each floor of the four-story townhouses. The lack of a specialized parking space for members of the village was also an issue, as parking passes can run up to $800 a semester, and as of now, there is no designated parking lot for those living in the Leadership Village.

ASU directs to residents to park at various campus locations. The closest parking garage is directly across from the GLV at the Rural Road parking structure.

According to Biciolis, students also didn’t want a housing situation similar to Adelphi Commons, an ASU-owned dormitory that functioned as a house for 12 sorority chapters.

The chapter president said her organization constantly encountered problems filling bedrooms and keeping members from bailing on their leases at Adelphi Commons, a space Biciolis described as a “glorified dorm room.”

“Everyone had a preconceived notion it was going to be like Adelphi,” Biciolis said. “Some girls were kind of on the fence about living in the Greek Leadership Village and now that they see it, they’re like, ‘I’m so happy I did it.’”

Bathroom pipes in Chi Omega home were leaking when sorority members moved in, Bicolis acknowledged, but she said the University made repairs quickly.

Jacob Hill, a junior and member of the Sigma Nu fraternity, had his own reservations before move-in day.

“We were a little scared moving into [the house] that a lot of these buildings were going to be rushed, so we were a little uneasy,” he said. “As soon as we moved in here, we really found ourselves impressed with the turnout.”

Hill said his mother needed some convincing to let him into the Sigma Nu house.

“She was very nervous. I had to do a little persuading to seal the deal,” Hill said. “She said it even surpassed her expectations.”

Sigma Nu currently houses 30 men, a slightly nightmarish scenario for anyone who enjoys living in a clean space.

“It definitely looks like 30 guys live there,” Hill said, laughing. “It gets a tad messy. But we have a cleaning crew that comes in.”

The gated complex comes equipped with several outdoor barbecues, concrete ping-pong tables donning nets with ASU insignia, benches, and a triangular grass quad. When New Times visited in mid-August, yard crews were still placing sod into grassy areas and planting shrubbery along walking paths.

ASU's housing development partner, American Campus Communities, developed and owns the $72 million Village on ASU land. The partners have a few rules to help protect their investment.

“It’s ASU property, and since ASU is a dry campus, those are the rules,” Biciolis said.

ASU expects students to abide by the Student Code of Conduct and the housing policies for students residing on campus. Events must be scheduled and registered in advance, and follow set policies.

On weekends, Hill said, police patrol the grounds. Any substance consumption or outlandish, unsafe behavior from any organization could lead to suspension, fines, losing the organization’s home, and ramifications from the national chapter.

“The rules are strict, and we’re scared [of breaking them],” Hill said.

But that doesn’t mean students can’t take the party out of the Village and into the Valley.

“There’s an opportunity to have a good time here, but those festivities will occur off campus for safety,” Hill said.

Greek life on ASU’s campus makes up about 9 percent of the student population. Over 5,500 students are involved in one of the 77 fraternities and sororities on campus. But before the Village was built, Greeks lived either in Adelphi Commons or off campus.

In 2012, the last of ASU’s “Greek Row” houses was demolished. In an effort to steer clear of the traditional Greek Row, the university opted to build a settlement that would “transform our community in order to create the premier fraternity and sorority experience in the country by being values-based, impact-driven individuals and organizations,” a blurb on ASU’s Fraternity and Sorority Life website said.

In an interview with The State Press, ASU President Michael Crow said the initiative for the GLV was student-led, but “entirely backed by the University.”

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As plans for the development of the GLV were underway, the project began to draw criticism from some Greek organizations. Austin Bloom, a member of Pi Kappa Alpha, started a Change.org petition in January 2017 garnered close to 200 signatures.

Among Bloom’s complaints was the high cost of housing, lack of parking, occupancy requirements, and lack of certain amenities (including a pool and fitness center).

An additional petition also created in January 2017 (by an anonymous party, not Bloom) stated, “We have confirmation from 100% of Fraternity chapters at ASU stating they will REFUSE to live in the complex on all grounds.”

Bloom didn't return a request for comment.

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