William and Mary announced plans for a new fraternity complex last week, setting in motion a process which will potentially see its opening in fall of 2013.
“One of the on-going concerns that we have been dealing with as a fraternity community is that the houses we have been providing on campus don’t meet the needs of the current day fraternity at William and Mary,” said Anne Arseneau, Associate Director of Student Activities in charge of Greek Life. “Mostly that’s based on size… we built spaces that accommodates what fraternities looked like in the 60s.”
Arseneau explained the dynamic of the situation had changed since then due to freshmen occupancy requirements and the increased number of people who study abroad, both of which have contributed to the increased difficulty in filling their required occupancy quotas.
“When the College articulated that we needed to, for enrollment purposes, build 200 additional beds, there was very good conversation at a leadership level above mine about whether or not we could solve two problems with one solution,” said Arseneau.
The new facilities will house 17 beds each, conceivably providing a much better scenario for fraternities given their size. “Seventeen seemed to be a critical mass of members to have that unified feeling, but not so overwhelming that it would be challenging for the chapter to fill it,” Arseneau explained.
The fraternity houses will be stand-alone, meaning that fraternities will not have to share walls or stairwells. Additionally, the new buildings will allow for more individuality as each building will be slightly different in terms of layout and fraternities can make each house their own.
The former fraternity-occupied units will likely be transitioned into non-greek housing.
The new complex will include a common building that may be able to provide storage space, meeting spaces, duty office for the complex, pending a formal design. An outdoor terrace or covered room could also be a possible option.
Arseneau made it clear that what has been released thus is only a rough outline of the project. The design phase has officially begun and will continue through August now that the Board of Visitors has approved the project. Groundbreaking would hopefully occur in early spring of 2012 with completion in fall of 2013.
Drew Chlan (’13), member of both Delta Phi fraternity and the committee dedicated to this project, spoke glowingly about the proposed plans. “My belief is that the Greek Housing Complex will give the College a beautiful new look while strengthening the bonds of brotherhood in all fraternities. I also hope that these gorgeous buildings will serve as home to many philanthropic events that all students at William & Mary participate and enjoy in. I am humbled to be part of the process, both on the building committee and now on the task force.”