University officials announced the names of the last three Greek-letter organizations to receive spots in Townhouse Row Dec. 18 after attempts to swap property with fraternities that already own houses fell through. The Pi Kappa Phi fraternity and the Alpha Phi and Kappa Kappa Gamma sororities each signed nine-month leases for 24-bed houses in the 23rd Street facility set to open next fall.
University officials also cited a general need to reevaluate the remaining organizations as reasons for a delay in naming the last three groups. The recipients of the first five houses were named before winter break.
“I was still doing some more homework and some more negotiations,” said Mike Gargano, associate vice president for Student Academic Support Services.
While property swaps with fraternities that privately own houses on campus were previously discussed with organizations applying to live on Townhouse Row, the University also offered spots to fraternities that did not apply for houses.
“I was very upfront with everyone that there were properties we were interested in and that it wasn’t related to the normal selection process,” Gargano said.
Phi Sigma Kappa and Delta Tau Delta were among at least two fraternities with which the University negotiated giving houses to without applications.
“They offered to give us a townhouse in exchange for giving them our house,” said Phi Sigma Kappa president Kris Hart. Hart said the University had offered the fraternity a 20- to 30-year contract for a townhouse in exchange for its property.
“I made it very clear I had no interest in giving away the house,” Hart said. “It’s so much better than anything the University could offer us.”
No monetary numbers were discussed with relation to the property, Hart said.
“It might be nice to have marble floors and gold trimmed countertops, but we didn’t want to deal with the University,” Hart said. “We’re extremely happy with our current situation.”
Members of the Delta Tau Delta fraternity, who did not submit an application for a spot on Townhouse Row, also acknowledged property negotiations with the University over its G Street house.
Gargano said the potential property negotiations for all fraternity houses on campus were mentioned at the very beginning of the Greek townhouse conceptualization.
“I know I had spoken to Greek leadership at least 24 months ago to discuss exactly how I was proceeding,” Gargano said. “Everyone knew that was one of our objectives.”
University officials said that after property deals fell through, the organizations vying for the final three houses were in close contention. They were reevaluated under the initial criteria, which included membership, judicial record, academic performance, recommendations from local and national advisory committees, community service initiatives and contribution to the GW community.
While the issue of the property swap did not play as large a role as expected in the final result, the membership criterion played an increased part in the evaluation, Gargano said.
“If you only have 40 members, that would require more than 50 percent of them to commit to living in the house,” Gargano said. “That’s a lot to ask.”
Gargano noted he initially envisioned a Townhouse Row of four fraternities and four sororities, and the decision to choose more sororities than fraternities came down to the fact that female chapters are better at recruiting new members and promoting “continuity and longevity.”
Senior Matt Wolf, former president of Kappa Sigma, said that, while he was disappointed the fraternity would not be moving into a new townhouse, fraternity members are content with their 2206 F St. house.
“I was the one who proposed (we apply for a townhouse),” Wolf said. “It was in the best interest of the fraternity.”
Wolf said property negotiations were not an issue because GW owns the current Kappa Sigma house.
Tau Kappa Epsilon and Lambda Chi Alpha currently maintain houses near campus but did not receive townhouses. Members of both fraternities were unavailable for comment.
Gargano said he was satisfied with the final decision, even after the prolonged negotiations.
“The process was extremely fair,” Gargano said. “Overall, I am very pleased with the final selection.”
He said each fraternity and sorority will be able to choose paint colors, flooring and curtains for the house. Among the options is replacing the standard linoleum bathroom floor with tiles painted with an organization’s insignia.
Alpha Delta Pi, Delta Gamma and Sigma Kappa sororities and the Phi Kappa Psi and Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternities are the other groups set to occupy the townhouses starting next fall.
-Joshua Riezman contributed to this report.