With comments of looking toward the future, members of the University of Central Arkansas Board of Trustees decided in their meeting Friday that bigger is better when it comes to the houses in the Greek Village.
The board unanimously approved a resolution to proceed with an Economic Feasibility Study for the issuance of bonds up to $13.8 million to finance the design and construction of the first phase of the Greek Village.
This figure — an increase from the initially proposed $12 million — would provide for 32-bed houses instead of the proposed 22-bed houses.
The decision to increase the bed size for the houses resulted in a $1.8 million increase in debt service. According to the resolution, "the debt service will be repaid with housing revenue from residents and parlor fees from each member of the participating groups."
The breakeven year for 22-bed houses was projected for 13 years out, but because of an increase in revenue 10 extra beds per house, that projection is closer to six years with 32-bed houses.
Several board members initially voiced concerns that the university was limiting itself by considering 22 bed houses. Some said visits to other institutions provided perspectives from students who wished they had bigger Greek houses, and recent trends in recruitment at UCA show growth in the organizations.
"As our enrollment grows and as our Greek population grows, they’re going to be limited in what they can do," said Board Member Bobby Reynolds. "There’s no way to add on to these house. In five, 10 years from now if our Greeks explode in numbers and they say, ‘We need more room,’ there’s no way to add on to these house."
There was concern that some of the sororities may not be able to fill all the rooms. As of Oct. 2, the sororites ranged in size from 137 to 77 members.
Director of Sorority Life Lindsey Osborne said recruitment numbers are going up and it would be best to make sure the houses are uniform in size despite the gap in current sorority membership.
"The national presidents definitely talk about how a village concept is equal for all sororities, and there would be a lot of concern from our national presidents if the houses weren’t the same bed size," she said.
The first phase of construction will include building a house for each of the five sororities. Phase two is expected to break ground for the fraternity houses in either Fall 2016 or Fall 2017.
UCA President Tom Courtway said the decision to build the sorority houses before the fraternity houses was not an easy one to make, but it had to do with the university’s bonding capacity and the varying levels of interest from the fraternities.
"This is not an easy thing to put together, but it seems at this time in my opinion this is the appropriate way to proceed," he said. "It doesn’t make everyone happy ... There are better days ahead."
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