More than 250 guests — including Gov. Doug Ducey, Tempe Mayor Mark Mitchell and Arizona State University President Michael M. Crow — celebrated the official grand opening of the Greek Leadership Village on Tuesday evening.
"I am here today not as the governor but as a very proud Sun Devil," said Ducey, an alumnus who was a member of Pi Kappa Alpha during his time at ASU.
He reminisced about his time at ASU, not knowing a single person, living in Manzanita Hall and rushing, adding that if students are not living in the (Greek) house, to move in. This advice comes from his experience living with his Greek brothers for four years while at ASU.
"I want to encourage you to get involved in your fraternity and sorority," Ducey said. "The skills that I learned as pledge trainer, rush chairman, treasurer, then president of my fraternity — these are skills that I not only applied in my career at Procter & Gamble and that built Coldstone Creamery, these are the skills I use every day as governor to convene leaders inside the community, bring them together, set a vision, chart a course, pick the right people and build consensus. All that is available to you in the Greek system, in addition to the relationships that you can build."
The Greek Leadership Village represents a new vision for fraternity and sorority life, a community where all fraternal organizations can gather, work, learn and live. The community, at Rural and Terrace roads on the east side of the Tempe campus, welcomed its first residents in August. It includes 27 Greek chapters in three- or four-story townhouses, each ranging from 19 to 41 beds for sophomores, juniors and seniors — some 950 fraternity and sorority members in total. It's the first community of its kind at ASU and among the first in the country.
In a climate where Greek life is being closed down at universities across the nation, President Crow thanked ASU students, student leaders and all who were involved in the project over the last few years for their perseverance in maintaining Greek life on campus. Rather than retreating from the tradition of sororities and fraternities, which have produced many state and national leaders across all sectors, he commended the students for finding a resolution, generating ideas of what a new Greek life could look like and bringing it to fruition.
"Through hard work, through creativity by our students, a university team working with our students, through perseverance, through trust between the students and the university, we were able to work our way through some thorny patches and come out on the other side with this project," he said.
The centerpiece of the village is a 33,000-square-foot community center with office and activity space for every chapter at ASU, not just those with housing there. The community center, which includes retail space and a ballroom, also houses all five governing councils of Greek life, according to Gary Ballinger, director of fraternity and sorority life at ASU.
At ASU, about 5,000 students are active members of 77 sororities and fraternities — about 9 percent of the undergraduate population. In the 2017-18 academic year, the sorority and fraternity community performed more than 53,245 hours of community service and raised nearly $500,000 for charity.
Ducey said that one thing he thought was great about Greek life was the healthy competition — not only on an academic level but a philanthropic one, which he encouraged students to focus on.
The 12 sororities and 15 fraternities housed in the Greek Leadership Village were selected after an application process that required financial information, conduct history, a roster of residents, a letter of support from the national organization and a pitch on how the chapter could contribute to the community, Ballinger said.
Each townhouse includes a kitchen, meeting space, a president’s suite and a patio on the ground floor, with bedrooms, communal bathrooms and a balcony on the upper floors. The gated complex is built around two grassy courtyards with picnic tables, grills and lounge seating. There is no pool.
The Greek Leadership Village is the culmination of a student-led process that began in 2012, when Greek organizations began proposing the idea of a communal living space. A student committee began looking at Greek housing communities at other universities. In 2016, the chapters involved their national organizations and alumni, and the Arizona Board of Regents approved the building plan. The application process began in 2017. ASU built the 300,000-square-foot, $70 million project in conjunction with American Campus Communities, which is managing the 6-acre complex.
"These houses, these chapters, these organizations where students can learn together, live together and think about being leaders together…" Crow said. "Leadership is a very difficult thing. It requires you to understand people, to have empathy for other people, to understand other people's circumstances, to learn how to solve problems, to learn how to live together, to learn how to move through things together. This project is representative of a massive forward step for Arizona State University in student governance, in student design, in student leadership and in the new emergence of new student leaders."
Herminia Rincon and Mary Beth Faller contributed to this report.
Top photo: (From left) Wayne Unger, Tempe Mayor Mark Mitchell, ASU President Michael Crow, Regent Karrin Taylor Robson, Gov. Doug Ducey, ACC CEO Bill Bayless and Corinne Roels cut the ceremonial ribbon at the Greek Leadership Village grand opening on the Tempe campus on Feb. 26. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now
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