ASUCI president and Phi Kappa Psi member Gabriel Ayass recently approached Chancellor Ralph Cicerone about the possibility of establishing a Greek row on campus.
UC Irvine is set apart from many other colleges by the absence of such a Greek community. Many members of UCI fraternities and sororities share a dream of an exclusively Greek housing community.
Ayass feels that a Greek row would improve the campus’ social environment.
‘Some of the best social outlets on this campus … are Greek fraternities and sororities,’ Ayass said. ‘I feel that adding a specific area designated as a Greek row would be helpful in [improving] student life on campus.’
Sammy Shaaya, former ASUCI president and current Greek commissioner, is also passionate about the issue.
‘Any kind of student housing that gets students on the campus is a plus,’ Shaaya said.
While Cicerone is open to discussion about the issue, he states that although recent ASUCI presidents have approached him with their ideas, a Greek row for UCI is unlikely anytime soon.
‘I’ve talked with [Ayass] and the previous two or three ASUCI presidents,’ Cicerone said. ‘The idea is easier to talk about than it is to do.’
Cicerone’s skepticism underscores the various problems inherent with such a development.
Because the costs of student housing are mostly offset by rent payments, the concern of university officials is not money as much as it is the appropriate use of land.
‘If university land would be used, a big issue is whether to devote land to such a project as opposed to some other usage … including other housing types,’ Cicerone said.
Some students look unfavorably on such an allocation of UCI property.
‘They shouldn’t use UCI land for something like that,’ said Jeremy Adamson, a fourth-year mathematics and physics double major. ‘If they really want a Greek Row so bad, they should try to talk to the Irvine Company to get something like that opened up. … UCI land [is] there for all of the students.’
Shaaya disagreed with the notion that a Greek Row would benefit only Greek students.
‘The idea is that the whole community grows,’ Shaaya said. ‘This would bring 500 to 1,000 additional students onto the UCI campus. Current Greek housing at Arroyo Vista could be given to various other groups and clubs. The idea is a betterment of the campus.’
The proposal by the Greek organizations would entail the use of university land, but the individual groups would cover the cost.
‘Fraternities and sororities would buy their own houses and usage of the land would be on extended leases somewhere in the neighborhood of 20 to 30 years, with the option to renew,’ Ayass explained.
Cicerone said that there may be obstacles yet unconsidered by Ayass and other supporters of this type of community.
‘We would also have to know how the housing would be governed and paid for,’ Cicerone said. ‘For example, would there be a house corporation run by Greek alumni or would UCI have to handle all of the money for construction, mortgage payments and maintenance?’
Ayass said that many current fraternity and sorority members who live in Arroyo Vista complain that housing regulations hinder their ability to host large gatherings that may involve noise and drinking. A Greek row would provide an area where fraternities and sororities could host these types of gatherings without being a disturbance to others in the community.
‘Even if you were to have just a regular party and you had people from all over campus come and you had a disc jockey and everything … [Arroyo Vista] would probably shut it down because they’d say it was creating a noise disturbance, even if it’s a Friday or Saturday night,’ Ayass said.
These regulations are intended to promote UCI’s academic priorities. However, some students, particularly those in fraternities and sororities, feel that the need for social activity is underemphasized.
‘I think it’s very reasonable for young people, particularly college students, to need some kind of social outlet where they can let loose, have fun, party and hang out,’ Ayass said.
According to Ayass, while there are potential off-campus locations to be utilized, Irvine is generally adverse to situations that mix large crowds of young people with loud music and alcohol.
‘The city doesn’t allow stuff like that to happen,’ Ayass said.
Some students feel that this is not a valid concern.
‘They just want to have a typical college experience like what they see in movies,’ Adamson said.
Other students see the idea of moving fraternities out of Arroyo Vista as beneficial for fraternity members and students alike.
‘Fraternities want to party and academic halls want quiet time,’ said Theodore Reynolds, third-year aerospace engineering major. ‘If [fraternities] can find a place to have parties and not disturb too many people, I don’t see a problem with that.’
Despite the difficulties of such an undertaking, Cicerone has not dismissed the idea of a Greek row.
‘I support Greek life because it can add a good public-spirited dimension to the campus,’ Cicerone said. ‘I want UCI to have more alternatives for student activities and housing so students can have more choices.’