For more than 40 years, Queens Greek Row lodges have housed secret rituals, dances, initiations and a multitude of memories. Then over the summer, in an accelerated campus-wide construction timetable that shocked some Greek students, Queens demolished the lodges as part of a plan for a new Greek Village in the basement of Wireman Residence Hall.
“With the cost of construction on the rise, we decided to go ahead with construction. The demolishing of Greek row was always in the master plan,” said Zach Thomas, associate director of Greek Life and Leadership.
Wireman is currently undergoing renovation to create the Greek Village, set to open in early November. According to Thomas, the seven Greek organizations each will receive at least an 800-square-foot room along with $10,000 stipend for designing their rooms.
“Each organization has complete control over how they want their room to be laid out and constructed,” said Thomas.
For junior Alecia Payne, a Alpha Delta Pi member, the news of Greek Village was bittersweet. “Initially, I was sad; there’s a lot of emotional attachment and memories in those buildings. But I know it’s a really great opportunity,” said Payne. “Each sorority and fraternity got to meet one-on-one with the architect. It’s a blocked space, but we get to do what we want,”
Junior Max Kaczynski, president of Phi Kappa Sigma, echoed similar feelings. “I think it’s great. [Phi Kappa Sigma] was at a disadvantage with the lodge because we lacked tradition and were still making it look like something substantial. The renovation sets everyone at an even level – a brand new start.”
In addition to the excitement of the new location, Kaczynski hopes that in relocating the organizations to a common location, Greek unity will be strengthened. “I hope Greek Village will allow us to grow closer and respect everyone even more,” said Kaczynski.
Thomas also stresses the hope of increasing Greek unity among the organizations. “Originally there were six organizations in lodges and one with a facility in West. There was a sense of division. Now, everyone will be together. We also have space to grow with two additional rooms,” said Thomas.
To Payne, the main disadvantage of Greek Village is its location. “The fact that we’re not outside for everyone to see is somewhat upsetting. There won’t be a visual representation on campus. Our lodges were more like homes. We’ll just have to add some personal touches,” said the Alpha Delta Pi member.
In the past, Greek organizations used their lodges to hold gatherings and parties. Thomas reassures that Greeks will still be able to have Greek social events in their rooms should they choose to do so. “We also hope they continue to utilize space on and off campus as has been done in the past,” said Thomas.
Dean of Students John Downey, asked if he expected any conflicts among Greek organizations located so close together, responded, “They were really close together on Greek Row and there wasn’t much of that happening. It could happen, but it’s my experience that Greek life here at Queens is different than any institution I’ve ever been at…. Things would have to shift culturally for that to happen.” That said, Dean Downey stressed there would be no tolerance for any “Greek life nonsense” that happens at other universities. “We’re just not going to put up with any nonsense because it can deteriorate too quickly…. I don’t think that will happen. If it does, they will find themselves off campus very quickly.”
With Greek recruitment just around the corner, many students have wondered about the location of this week-long crash course into Greek life. According to Kaczynski, interested students will be taken to various locations on campus during the nights of recruitment.
“The biggest thing we’ll see this year is that they’ll choose us 100 percent based on what we say and believe. They won’t be judging us on décor or who has the nicer lodge,” said Kaczynski.
Until the construction of Greek Village is complete, Greek organizations will continue to meet in various locations on campus.