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ETSU unveils new fraternity spaces on campus

Jonathan Roberts • Sep 8, 2019 at 12:00 AM

For four East Tennessee State University fraternities, Saturday marked the beginning of a new chapter in their history — one that could have a large impact on campus as a whole.

Last year, ETSU officials announced they were putting together a plan to move all of the university’s fraternities on campus by 2020. On Saturday, the university and the fraternities took a big step toward that goal, with four of ETSU’s five fraternities unveiling their new, on-campus homes.

“I really do think (the move) will change our fraternity atmosphere completely,” said ETSU Interfraternity Council President Nolan McClain. “It gives our members a place where they can actually spend time and grow friendships with each other … it really will change the undergraduate members’ experience.”

The move leaves Sigma Chi as the only recognized ETSU fraternity without an on-campus home. In June, ETSU Associate Vice President for Student Life and Engagement Jeff Howard told the Press he hopes Sigma Chi, too, will eventually move onto the campus.

Sigma Phi Epsilon and Sigma Alpha Epsilon will both have spaces on West Maple Street, while Beta Upsilon Chi and Alpha Sigma Phi will rent space inside Nell Dossett Hall.

“We’re just so excited,” Sigma Phi Epsilon President Logan Dorris. “We’ve been here since 1954, and this is really the first time we’ve had our image — our name — on campus. It’s just awesome to be so visible on campus now.”

The move into highly visible spaces on campus comes after several university fraternities have faced suspension or have had extra restrictions placed on their chapters. Pi Kappa Alpha had its ETSU chapter suspended in 2016 for repeated violations of ETSU’s code of conduct, with its suspension ending Jan. 10, 2020. In October 2018, Kappa Sigma was suspended from campus until Nov. 2, 2020, after allegations of hazing, underage drinking and unregistered parties.

“There are Greek chapters and institutions across the country where you’re seeing complications,” ETSU President Brian Noland said. “Here at ETSU, there’s a fair amount of responsibility that comes with this opportunity. We’ve been clear in our expectations for the chapters, and the chapters have been clear in their desire to meet those expectations.

“We’ve had some bumps in the road, but I think many of those bumps in the road have been (the result of) of location,” Noland continued.

McClain, meanwhile, says the support is “so important,” and that the fraternities “really do appreciate” it.

“It’s so important to have our university supporting us,” he said. “It really does show that your university can put a lot of effort into you, and you see it every day with our faculty and staff, they really do try their hardest for everything.”

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