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Hopkins Greek Life considers fraternity row

By MEGAN CRANTS | November 18, 2010

For some time, Hopkins has been considering the creation of a fraternity row. Though in the past, the request of the Inter-Fraternity Council has been denied, they have recently re-submitted their plan.

“We are currently beginning the process of a frat row.  It is something that will take years to do, but it is for the best for Hopkins and the community. Fraternity noise complaints occur too frequently to not consider moving the houses closer together,” President of the Inter-Fraternal Council Miles Gordon said.

“A frat row has not happened yet because it takes a lot of planning, and no one has really stepped up to make it happen. Hopefully, our attempt will be more successful than the others.”

Gordon sees fraternity row as a positive move for Hopkins Greek Life. “Close housing means fewer scattered noise complaints, easier monitoring of parties for the neighborhood liaison, Carrie [Bennett],” Gordon said. “It is also safer for students going to/from parties, so that they are not walking around Baltimore at 1am in small groups trying to find the correct house. The only issues are getting University approval, getting the approval of the neighborhood, and noise complaints from direct neighbors.”

Rob Turning, the head of Greek life at Hopkins, agrees with Gordon that a fraternity row is a definite possibility. “There has always been talk of establishing a Greek row at Hopkins. It usually gets derailed once we start talking about where it will go and how it will be paid for, though. The campus is pretty much landlocked, so finding a place to put it would be a tremendous challenge. It is definitely a possibility, but it would take a long time. If a committee was formed tomorrow, it would probably be safe to say that current undergrads would probably graduate before a Greek row is finished.

“The main question is how will they be owned? Would JHU own/maintain them and rent to the groups (i.e. George Washington University)? Would the groups build/maintain them on their own? Could there be some rent-to-own process? Whatever route is chosen, there would have to be some agreement between Johns Hopkins University and the groups. There would probably be other issues, but this is the main one if this is ever to get off the ground,” Turning said.

Many students feel that the creation of a fraternity row would better enhance the Greek life experience as well. “Having a fraternity row would allow the students in Greek Life to have a safe place to live where we would not constantly be bothering the neighbors all around the community,” Kipp Slachman, a junior in Pi Beta Phi said.  “It would also help so that people going from house to house would not have to walk around Baltimore late at night.”

Dan Hochman, a senior in Alpha Epsilon Pi agrees. “A frat row would be a great thing for the school and the surrounding community,” he said.  “Fraternities would better be able to collaborate and pool their resources to put on fantastic events; both philanthropic and social, and the surrounding community would have less to complain to the school about in terms of noise.”

Some, however, feel that there are issues with the possible creation of a fraternity row. “I don’t know where they could have it without kicking people out of houses and/or having residents complain about it,” sophomore Sinan Ozdemir of Sigma Chi said.  “I think it’s a good concept and would be safer logistically, but it’s too hard to establish right now.”

Senior Douglas Tonkinson, the president of Sigma Phi Epsilon, agreed. “It’s the ideal situation for both fraternities and the school, however problems are keeping it from becoming a reality,” he said. “The issue of where to put it is one. There’s also the issue of housing contracts that many of the fraternities have for the next few years--many of us are unable to move contractually. I’d love to see it happen, but the outlook is bleak for the near future.”

Freshman Brandon Weber thinks that a frat row would be great. “Aside from the noise complaints that would surely ensue, I think that it’s a marvelous concept.”

Junior Luis Grimaldo, on the other hand, thinks that the costs would outweigh the benefits. “It’s a cool idea, but I highly doubt that it will happen because there are institutions such as the Blackstone Hotel and the Jewish Center that will not leave that much space for the frats. There are no places that are especially close to WaWa and Pike that are free.”

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