The university is making headway on the new Sigma Phi Epsilon house at Oak Lane, the first of many new houses in the latest stage of the community’s development.
Phase IV of Oak Lane is a university initiative to bring Greek life on campus, something that Charlie Badawy and his brothers quickly took advantage of.
“Being on Clay Street is great, and I will certainly miss it, but being at Oak Lane will let us work on relationships with the rest of the Greek community,” said Badawy, president of the fraternity and a human nutrition, foods and exercise major.
The Phase IV development includes plans for up to 18 new fraternity houses over the next decade or so, with the cost shared by the house corporations and the university. If the fraternity can raise a third of the cost, which it does by making tax-deductible contributions to the Virginia Tech Foundation, the university will foot the rest of the bill.
But, so far only Sigma Phi Epsilon has been able to raise enough funds, according to Ed Spencer, the now-retired vice president for student affairs.
Spencer attributes this to the relatively young alumni bases. The current Greek life system did not exist before the 1970s at Tech, so other schools with a 100-year traditions find an easier to raise large sums of money.
With each house costing $2-4 million, alumni support is vital to the construction.
Spencer said that it is not necessarily a bad thing that the fraternities cannot raise the money initially. From the beginning planning stages, the university expected only one to be ready at the start of the phase. He also noted that the university would have a hard time financing so many houses at once.
Badawy said Sigma Phi Epsilon’s alumni base wanted to donate something lasting, like a house, which would last for 100 or 200 years.
The new house will house 35 undergraduates and one graduate student, who will serve as a resident adviser.
The new house will open in mid-September, and the students will be living in study-lounges-turned-dorms for the first part of the school year, according to Spencer.