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Greek life housing initiative announced

Barry McNamara
Monmouth College’s long and storied Greek tradition has reached another milestone with the announcement of a new phase in its Greek Life Initiative.

The Monmouth College Board of Trustees has authorized construction of a new residence unit, a 16-bed Victorian-style facility that will open in the fall of 2010. Because sororities have never had the opportunity to have their own houses at Monmouth, it was decided that the first group to occupy a new Greek house should be women.

“Our board of trustees has recommitted to the perpetuation of Greek life on the Monmouth College campus,” said President Mauri Ditzler. “The trustees are committed to providing and maintaining quality housing for fraternities and sororities, and this is the first step in that process. It is a prototype and will be used to study the possibility for future housing of a similar nature.”

Currently, only one college property fits the zoning and space criteria necessary for the planned 6,000-square-foot structure – the site of “Woodbine,” the former Zeta Beta Tau house at Broadway and Eighth Street.

“With equity dictating that women’s housing should be addressed first, it is our intent to house a women’s sorority in the new house on a temporary basis,” said Ditzler, who explained why that site, in particular, required a “temporary” status. “Because of the deep attachment that the men of ZBT have to the Woodbine lot, it is our long-term intent that the new house there becomes the permanent home of ZBT.”

MC’s office of development and college relations will work with ZBT alumni on a fundraising plan for the house. After funds have been raised to cover the cost of construction, and when student housing needs have been adequately addressed, the Delta Lambda chapter of Zeta Beta Tau will again reside at Broadway and Eighth.

As part of the construction this summer, a ZBT memorial garden will be installed, honoring the memory of the late chemistry professor Richard “Doc” Kieft, longtime adviser for the fraternity, as well as ZBT brothers David Bayles, Max Rylander and John Miller, who were killed in a car accident in 1991.

In addition to the construction of the new residence unit, Ditzler said that another immediate goal of the Greek Life Initiative is to have a campus master plan in place by the fall.

“Our desire is to have all our students involved in educationally meaningful activities,” said Ditzler. “When a Greek institution is run correctly, it is consistent with our goals of academic rigor and active citizenship. Our experience is that when there is a close relationship between a college and its fraternities and sororities, Greek students are among the academic leaders on campus.”