News Tidbits 9/8/10: The Kappa Sig Dorm

9 09 2010

Being interested in both the Greek System and in the university’s physical facilities, an article that details how Kappa Sigma’s house has been transformed into a small dorm is bound to catch my attention. Evwn better, it’s a very well-detailed article, and I found myself pleasantly surprised with the quality of work.

I guess being an alum just reminds me of how unaware of news I am now, as this was the first time I heard anything about this renovation and reopening. The reuse of the building as a dorm is actually the less surprising part. 112 Edgemoor and 14 South are former Greek houses that operate now as small dorms (Triangle, which closed in 1985, occupied 112 Edgemoor up to 1985 and Kappa Alpha lived in 14 South from 1957-1990). Cornell purchased the Kappa Sigma facility as part of the Cornell University Residential Plan of 1966. Reasonably, when Cornell owns a facility (as it does with at least 15 Greek houses, of which all but one (722 University Ave.) are fully occupied), it’s financially much more preferable to maintain the space as a working residential facility. This goes for private houses as well — the article mentions Pike is being rented out as a boarding house. This policy also has bearing on active chapters; boarding which is a popular option with residential fraternities with low membership numbers as a way to maintain the financial viability of a house. Interestingly enough, the university used Craigslist to advertise the spaces, and managed to fill all but one.

The article reports that the estimate for maintaining an empty fraternity house runs about $80,000 to $90,000 in a given year. The extremely general description for the expenditures is maitenence. More specifically, heating (pipes may burst in the winter if the facility isn’t adequately heated), insurance, security for a vacant facility, interior and exterior upkeep, and other utilities (which cost money to even have access to let alone use) come to mind.

I’m rather surprised at Cornell’s investment in renovating the facility. I dunno how much work had to be done, but if the Kappa Sigma alumni have already started the rechartering process, then it’s likely the university won’t be filling the facility for more than two years.  But, I don’t know much about the maitenence of university-owned Greek houses (my fraternal alma mater was privately owned by an alumni board). It just struck me as curious.


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