The chapter house of a fraternity, in many cases, is the pillar of that organization — the most visible representation of it to the public. Oftentimes, we even find ourselves referring to the chapter simply as “the house.” Even though we’re actually talking about our organization as a whole, the house is as much a part of the chapter as the people housed within its seeping walls. After reading the TFM article that came out last week detailing the luxurious housing complex epidemic, I began wondering whether or not I would be okay with my chapter house being torn down and rebuilt into one of those temples of modern comfort.
Every year, alumni come together at various universities to reconnect and relive the glory days of their times at the chapter house, reminiscing upon their “wild sexcapades” and “alcohol-induced fuckfests,” about which you’ve heard every single time they roll in for Homecoming but which they insist “never get old” so they keep fucking telling you about it. We spend four years — five if you did it right and six if you fucked up — creating a bond with people whom we will call our brothers for the rest of our lives. During that time, memories are made — for better or worse — that are associated with specific parts of that chapter house.
Being able to walk past and revisit the rooms where you once laid claim to the most unholy of shenanigans has a nostalgia rush that is only given by the mere sight of the dilapidated structure that you once convinced yourself was an acceptable living space — at the expense of your mother’s sanity. The first time that you sprained your ankle drunkenly tripping up the stairs can only be described in so many ways before you need to show someone the exact spot in which it happened so they can truly appreciate the experience for what it was — a beautiful (and painful) moment that you hold near and dear to your heart.
I can’t speak for everyone, but the reality with my own fraternity is that not only would I be able to move on if the chapter house were to be torn down and rebuilt, but I’d be the first person at the housewarming. If you’ve ever lived anywhere that is remotely hot without air conditioning, you would know that it is literally hell on earth, especially when it’s pushing up into the 90s or higher. When your friend who just moved out is telling you how nice it is to have his own bathroom and air conditioning that works, living in a shithole kinda loses its luster — you want a piece of that action.
I’d love nothing more than for the current undergrads to have a comfortable and luxurious place to live so they feel like their parents’ money is being put to good use. When you have plumbing that doesn’t work, windows that need replaced, and any other basic requirement of a livable situation that just isn’t there, you start to question if maybe a nicer house might just be the best thing for the chapter moving forward. These are logical thoughts to have; essentially the exact opposite of the ones the 2017 Sacramento Kings have in any given situation.
It’s interesting, because I’m not entirely convinced that a fraternity which does not operate within a chapter house would even want one that was a rundown shell of its former self. Oftentimes, a major selling point for those without an official chapter house is the fact that they don’t have a live-in requirement. I can’t imagine it going over well when someone finds out they now have to live in a condemnable house and room with the guy who walks around barefoot all day and looks like he doesn’t shower even though he claims he does despite the fact that all that’s his in your shared shower is lotion and soggy tissues. Living with barefoot Billy becomes somewhat tolerable in a house that is equipped with the latest and greatest that your out of house brother is raving about; not when your bathtub is a Taft-style clawfoot.
At the end of the day, it comes down to how much you value your comfort and sanity. Telling yourself that your current living situation is acceptable because it has character is all fine and dandy. That is, until you realize you’re moving into a four-bedroom apartment with one bathroom. You know what has character? Your own bathroom. It’s 2017, and times are changing. let your college living experience be your first taste of the high life..