GC Prepares for a New Sorority Living Learning Community, but Still Face Logistical Issues
Conflict arose last semester in the planning process for the newest Living Learning Community at GC, with a focus on sorority women, when one of GC’s sororities, Phi Mu, chose to vote against the proposed community, expected to be fully functioning by Fall of 2018.
“We needed evidence that these problems we saw very clearly as an Executive Board were going to be addressed, and in the first stage, we didn’t feel that Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life had a plan to fix them,” Beauchamp also added.
As months have passed, the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life continues on with the promotion and marketing of the Sorority exclusive Living Learning Community. However, the same issues, transportation, safety and liability have not been addressed. New sorority members recently signed housing agreements, which require them to live their second year at GC in the Village Apartments on West Campus. These agreements are binding, unless there is an extenuating circumstance involved, and may be reviewed on a case by case basis.
The Sorority Living Learning Community has created an array of marketing visuals with women of all ages talking about the benefits of such program. A high-quality video adorns the information page, full of quality video clips of a Village apparent all decorated, but all of these flashy multimedia components are missing a key piece — the logistics. How are residents going to get to class every day? What security measures are going to be put in place to make sure 3 buildings of just young women doesn’t become a target for crime?
Without an addressed solution for these issues, residents of the Sorority Living Learning Community are left in the dark after already signing leases for the 2018 year.
“One of the biggest problem we also discussed as an Executive Board was lack of a solid transportation plan for these women, which could case potential safety issues,” Beauchamp said.
Recently, GC stopped providing a late-night shuttle service for residents of the Village at West Campus, due to lack of use in the past. As the plans for the Sorority Living Learning Community have been drawn, this is a continuous issue that has not been addressed. There has not been a solution proposed thus far in the planning process that directly states a plan for residents getting home late at night from both campus or downtown.
“Trying to figure out how I am going to commute is my biggest issue with the LLC. I feel like there isn’t a good plan for how to get places. Are they going to add parking? Am I going to be able to get to my classes on time?” Allie Wagner, a new sorority member asked.
Currently, there is not a plan for a separate shuttle service that picks up residents of building one, two, and three, meaning that women in these buildings for the Living Learning Community would have to walk across the complex in order to get a ride from the West Campus buses.
“I would be less nervous if they would add a campus safety station on West Campus especially around the buildings that would be in the Living Learning Community. I feel like as you branch out from campus, the dangers of the city become more real, and you want your child to closer to campus for peace of mind,” Susan LaPenta said, when asked about her concerns as a mother.
Construction and renovations have already begun on The Village apartments at West Campus, however among the construction there has not been a specified plan for safety. Most of the West Campus buildings only require a Bobcat card swipe to enter the front door and a key or another swipe to get into the actual apartment.
“As a mother, my main concern is my daughter’s safety. I love the idea of her getting this awesome leadership experience but I’m not willing to give up her safety to participate in this program,” LaPenta also commented.
There have been talks of renovating the Village apartments so that only members of that specific sorority will be able to enter the chapter hall, but no details have been released at this time.
As the project continues to move forward, the biggest question on President Kate Beauchamp’s mind is who will assume the liability for women living in the Living Learning Community, the school or the organization?
“It could place that liability on our chapter, and cause problems in insurance.” Every voting member of the Executive Council of Phi Mu voted unanimously against the start of the proposed residential community. Since then, Phi Mu decided to join in on the project and already has new members who have signed up to live in the Living Learning Community for 2018. However, the question of the responsibility for a negative situation is still in the air.
“One of the biggest reasons I originally voted no for this project was that individual chapters are stuck with the responsibility of trying to both follow sorority rules and the rules of housing.” Brie Martino, Risk Management Chair for Phi Mu explained. “It creates a new question of, who is responsible for handling a situation if something goes wrong?”
Each chapter hall will have a peer mentor, an older sorority member who would act both as a Residential Assistant and role model to the women living on the hall. Similar to a RA, this woman would be in charge of reporting and behavior that violates both the GC housing contract and the respective sorority rules.
The curriculum, activities and the impact of this Living Learning Community are continuously being discussed, however important aspects such as transportation, safety and liability are not. New freshmen members have already signed leases, expecting most of these issues to have solution, but the truth is that there hasn’t been a clear one given from anyone involved in the project. As July 2018, the proposed move in date, approaches the concern for safety and if all of these gaps in the planning will be filled still looms on potential residents and