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The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

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Tri Delta Alumnae Help Create SMU’s Newest Chapter House

 

After over 60 years of use by generations of students, the aging sorority house of the Theta Kappa Chapter of Delta Delta Delta-more commonly known on campus as Tri Delta, developed a leaky roof and a sporadic fire alarm system.

SMU senior Erin McCarthy, a Tri Delta who resided in the house last year before it was demolished last July, said the fire alarm system would often go off randomly.

“It was the worst during recruitment last year. We had it go off two days in a row because of ‘too much hairspray,'” McCarthy said.

With a newly rebuilt house, the members and future members of Tri Delta will no longer face roof and fire alarm troubles. Today, a three-story, 20-bedroom house with a full basement, stands in the same location at 3100 University Boulevard.Guided by the collaborative, leading efforts of Tri Delta alumnae, the dream house emerged to address the challenges of the original house and preserve the livelihood of the chapter for generations to come.

Plans for the new house began to take shape in 2007 after Tri Delta’s House Corporation Board received a University Park mandate that all Greek houses must implement a modernized fire sprinkler system by 2013.

At that time, the House Corporation organized the Steering Committee, a group of eight Tri Delta alumnae who conducted a feasibility study to determine whether it should remodel or rebuild the home.

According to Michelle Davis, a member of the committee and contributor to the house’s PR/Marketing efforts, their evaluation took costs into consideration for the new sprinkler system, major needed repairs and to modernize the house comparable to other newly built sorority houses.

In August 2006, Kappa Kappa Gamma completed the construction of its new, 39-bedroom chapter house, which houses 40 of its members.

Nearly two years later, in the fall of 2009, Pi Beta Phi opened the doors of its newly rebuilt 19-bedroom chapter house-the home of 38 of its members.

SMU junior Meredith Jones, president of Chi Omega, said its chapter house is also being rebuilt and will be ready by August of next year.

“We determined and made the recommendation to the House Corporation that it would make more sense to rebuild, particularly because the other sororities on campus had rebuilt,” Davis said.

After the Steering Committee and House Corporation decided to rebuild, the two groups of alumnae worked side by side to create a house for the SMU Tri Deltas.

According to Nancy Anderson, the chairman of the Steering Committee, the team helped initiate the contracts with their vendors and advisors and have been overseers of the architectural and interior design plans of the house.

Tri Delta used Laura Lee Clark Interior Design, Inc. and Treanor Architects P.A-a company who specializes in Greek life housing, recommended by Tri Delta’s National House Corporation.

Jackie Converse, the lead of the Steering Committee’s design team, worked with Treanor Architects to help design a house suitable for the undergraduate members.

“It was important for our chapter to retain the original address at 3100 University rather than changing to a Durham address, so therefore, our new floor plan is very similar to the old one, except for adding the lower level chapter room,” Converse said.

In the original house, the chapter room was on the third floor, and below were the 15 bedrooms, which accommodated 32 residents.

Since SMU placed a cap on the total number of women able to live in a sorority house. Converse said the house was designed to fit 20, two-room suites, which will accommodate the university’s maximum of 40 residents.

According to SMU junior Claire Bauman, Tri Delta’s house manager, the resident’s of the house have been typically limited to juniors and seniors.

“Since we have more space next year, there will be some sophomores living there,” Bauman said.

In accordance with the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life and Residence Life and Student Housing policies, SMU sorority and fraternity houses classify as on-campus livingand will fall under the new two-year, on-campus housing requirement.

Bethany Voss, an SMU junior Tri Delta who will live in the house, is excited that the large size will allow a mixof older and younger Tri Deltas to live there.

“I love this because it is another way that will bring our entire chapter together,” Voss said.

To house its future residents and serve its 174 members, the new house will be 28,855 gross square feet, which includes the total square footage of its four levels.

Since it is nearly double the size of the original house, it will be more expensive for its residents. However, SMUjunior Alexis Ricci, Tri Delta’s vice president of finance, said the increase in rent will not be significant.

“The rent for girls living in the house will be comparable to other houses on campus and is still cheaper to live in than the dorms,” Ricci said.

SMU junior Katie Trimper, Tri Delta’s vice president of public relations, will live in the new house and looks forward to the style of the home.

“I’m really excited that the house is going to be brand new and much bigger than the old one, but that it will still have the same look and homey feel of our old one,” said Trimper.

Converse said that the new house will have a more updated feel, but will keep its traditional Georgian style.

The new house will have some of the chandeliers from the original house and will reclaim a portion of its hardwood floors to use on the first floor.

“We are very excited about the new house to ensure current and future Tri Delta’s have a place they can always call their home away from home,” Converse said.

Although Tri Delta did not disclose the cost to build their new home, their builders, Skiles Group, worked on a similar SMU housing project to rebuild Pi Phi’s house, and disclosed the contract amount of $5.28 million on its company website.

According to SMU junior Lucy Andrews, the vice president of housing for Pi Phi, the  Pi Phi house is approximately 23,000 square feet. Similarly to Tri Delta’s house, it is three stories, complete with a full basement.

To finance the new house, Tri Delta engaged in a Capital Campaign chaired by Mary Martha Stinnett, a SMU Tri Delta of 1956 and a member of the House Corporation.

According to Stinnett, the Capital Campaign has raised over $1.4 million dollars from over 400 donors in the past two years.

“We have an incredible list of dedicated Tri Deltas helping with the total house rebuild project,” Stinnett said.

One of the Capital Campaign’s many initiatives are “Naming Opportunities,” in which donors can purchase naming rights for the dining room, bedroom suites, the sun deck, library, study rooms and other parts of the house.

Anderson, who purchased the naming right for the TV room, said she was honored to make a financial contribution.

“My husband and I both graduated from SMU, and we both served as chapter presidents for our collegiate chapters,” she said. “Our Greek experience was very important to us then, and we both continue to benefit from it.”

Although the Capital Campaign remains ongoing, the essentials of the house were met when the campaign reached it $1.3 million goal. Come August, the residents of Tri Delta will begin their move into their new home.

Trimper looks forward to the new house, which she said alumnae worked hard to build with current and future Tri Delta’s in mind.

“It has everything we wanted and more,” Trimper said. “I really think that it will allow our chapter to grow and become an even greater presence on the SMU campus.”

 

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