As Belmont’s student population grows every year, so do its four sororities, and finding meeting spaces which adequately suit their needs has become a persistent problem.
Danni Kosturko, former Panhellenic president and current senior member of Alpha Gamma Delta, voiced these concerns last semester at both the State of the Student Body and Vision 2020 Town Hall meetings.
Provost Dr. Thomas Burns responded at the Student Body town hall, saying the use of the spaces operates on a first-come, first-served basis and that the spaces must “serve all constituencies.”
Kosturko, at the time, called last semester’s responses “disappointing”; one semester later, the issues still persist.
“There’s limited spaces on campus that are accessible to students, and the ones that are accessible are not that big,” she said.
The only venues open and spacious enough for sororities to use are Beaman A & B and Neely Dining Hall. Currently, they are shared by all four Panhellenic sororities. Each sorority boasts 195 members.
While these locations hold all the members the sororities, spacing is not the only concern.
“The biggest problem is ritual. Our rituals are sacred and not to be heard outside of the chapter,” she said.
Not only is it a privacy issue, but Kosturko said having to whisper rituals which typically are “said with strength and pride” dampens morale and keeps members from having the experience they want to have.
If the current trend of sorority growth continues, she said there is a chance the chapters could have to move off-campus for meetings, which would increase liability for the university and negatively impact sorority membership.
Both Kosturko and current Alpha Gamma Delta President Sarah Ellis pointed to some logistical difficulties inherent in juggling two spaces between four sororities.
The Vision contacted other sorority presidents but did not receive responses.
Ellis highlighted occasionally not having the rooms unlocked for chapter meetings as a key problem, whereas Kosturko said the rooms aren’t always set up, worsening a time crunch the sororities are already prone to experience.
On a broader level, the two AGD sisters both think having a unique meeting space would enhance the overall Greek life experience and remove unnecessary stressors.
“It would be easier to have a space that is ours, to have a better environment that is reflective of our chapters,” Ellis said. “The meetings would also run better.”
In attempting to reach out to administration, Ellis said she felt the sororities were “shouting to the wind” last semester and offered talking to the Greek life community as a solution.
Kosturko, alternatively, said she conducted conversations with Provost Thomas Burns that exemplified a “big disconnect” between Panhellenic and administration, a fault she credited partially to both parties. She put forth communication on both ends as a possible remedy.
Ultimately, what Ellis and other sorority members like her want is a solution which appeals to both parties.
“When you invest in student organizations, it shows students you’re investing in them,” she said. “We don’t want to complain. We want to be constructive.”
In an emailed statement to the Vision, Associate Provost and Dean of Students Dr. Jeffery Burgin expressed a similar goal.
He also said Belmont is fully aware of the spacing needs which have been “voiced respectfully and clearly” by Greek organizations but added that the university must also keep all other student organizations in mind.
Following the announcement that the Hitch building would be repurposed, Burgin did not offer any specifics about how the space would be used, but did say “students will be a part of the conversation.”
As it pertains to Greek life specifically, Burgin said possibilities for additional meeting spaces are being discussed.
Burgin also made it clear that Belmont’s Greek organizations are a source of “great pride” because they are “strong and moving in the appropriate direction” and engaged, internally and externally.
All in all, Burgin shared in the spirit of collaboration outlined by Ellis and Kosturko.
“As long as we continue to partner in making the experience positive for all, there is nothing I believe we can’t accomplish,” he said.
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