Greeks trying to find a place to call ‘home’

Carrie Rupp

Sigma Sigma Sigma members Brandy Prushing, senior English major; Jessica Schaedel, sophomore early childhood education major; Natalie Long, freshman middle childhood education major and Carissa Richardson, junior middle childhood education major, stand by

Credit: Beth Rankin

Seven months after purchasing the last plot of land on Fraternity Circle, Sigma Sigma Sigma sorority is far from finished in its effort to build a new chapter house.

The sorority bought the lot, a section of private land near the Student Recreational and Wellness Center, with hopes of raising enough money to build a permanent home for its members.

“For Greeks, finding a house to call home is not as easy as it may seem,” said Winnie Warner, chapter adviser for Sigma Sigma Sigma. “Whether buying, leasing or building, it’s actually a very long process.”

Sigma Sigma Sigma is one Greek organization that has been searching for a permanent home. Although the chapter has inhabited the white house with purple trim at 300 E. Main St. for nearly 11 years, they’ve never truly been able to call it home.

“Having the opportunity to build a house that will meet all of the needs of the girls is going to be really neat,” Warner said. “Many of the girls never realized we didn’t own the property on Main Street since that is all they have ever known, so there might be a little bit of nostalgia.”

Chapter President Brandy Prushing agreed with Warner.

“The house on Main Street has held all of our memories for a really long time,” Prushing said. “But we’re looking forward to making new memories in the new house, that will be just as exciting.”

Having a new house isn’t the only thing the girls are excited about.

“We’re really looking forward to having a nice, new house,” Prushing said. “The property is great and the location is perfect.”

Warner agreed.

“We found a spot close to several other sorority houses,” Warner said. “The girls are really going to be able to feel like they are part of the Greek community.”

Although the sorority has been able to put its search efforts to rest, the work is far from over.

“Getting a new house is something we have been working on for about eight years,” Warner said. “It takes a lot of time and effort and a whole lot of money to get a new house, which is the problem we are facing right now.”

Although they have had the land for seven months, they have not been able to confirm design plans or begin the building process because of funding.

“Of course we would have loved to have broken ground, but we need to raise funds in order to do that. You have to have so much money to actually start to build the house, and we don’t have that yet,” Warner said. “Hopefully, it will happen in the next year.”

The girls in the sorority plan to concentrate much of their time on major fundraising opportunities.

“The girls are going to work at Akron Aeros games and also at the Rockin’ on the River celebration in Cuyahoga Falls downtown next fall,” Warner said. “It’s going to take a lot to get this effort started. You can’t just hold a bake sale.”

Sigma Sigma Sigma isn’t the only Greek organization feeling a little homeless; fraternity Sigma Nu is in the same boat.

“We haven’t had an official chapter house for almost two years, and even so, we’ve never really had our own house,” Sigma Nu president Andrew Meeks said. “We’ve always leased, we’ve never really had total control.”

While leasing is an option that most students take advantage of, it’s often not an option for Greeks.

“Landlords don’t care to lease their houses to fraternities because of the stereotypes that come along with us,” Meeks said.

Landlords aren’t the only ones that shy from granting Greek students a place to call home. The city of Kent has many zoning ordinances that prohibit student housing from being used as Greek housing.

“We have looked at a couple of existing Greek houses,” Warner said. “We’ve even looked at some regular houses within the city of Kent that could work as a sorority house. But the last option did not work because Kent has an ordinance that prohibits establishing a new fraternity or sorority house within the city limits if the house is not already sanctioned as a Greek house.”

Warner is also familiar with the struggles that Sigma Nu is going through.

“They (Sigma Nu) are trying to build their house on university-owned land. They have to jump through a lot of hoops to get this thing going,” Warner said. “It’s a very long process, but they’ve been trying very, very hard to get that to happen.”

The fraternity is working with the university to help figure out the funding process and also develop designs for their house, Meeks said.

If all goes as planned, Meeks and Sigma Nu will have their dream house, a traditional red brick house with white pillars, sometime in the near future.

Contact Greek Life reporter Carrie Rupp at [email protected].