Omega Psi Phi Builds $2 Million Greek House
At University of South Carolina
Omega Psi Phi is building the first residence hall for a Black fraternity on the University of South Carolina campus. The $2 million fraternity house will be the national fraternity’s first investment of its kind on any campus and will make USC one of a handful of large, state-supported universities in the South to have campus housing owned by an African-American Greek organization.
The fraternity decided to build at USC partly because of president Andrew A. Sorensen’s personal outreach to local and national Omega leaders, says George Grace, national president of the fraternity.
“Dr. Sorensen said he wanted an African-American presence (in the Greek Village), and we happened to be in a position economically to do it,” Grace says.
About $300,000 has been raised for construction of the house, which will accommodate 40 students and include common rooms and a food service area, says Tony Grant, an Omega member and former Bank of America executive who has helped raise funds.
There are 15 houses in the university’s Greek campus in downtown Columbia. Five more, including the Omega house, are under contract. The existing houses have averaged investments of $1.5 million apiece, for a total investment of $22.5 million. The houses on the drawing boards will boost that total to more than $30 million. Each house has four to five employees.
Greek organizations at USC are responsible for financing, building and operating their residence halls, but the university retains the right to review the architecture of the buildings and leases the real estate to the fraternities and sororities, says Jerry Brewer, the school’s director of student life.
Omega Psi Phi and other minority fraternities have missed out on potential recruits and memberships have remained low because it was difficult for them to compete with Greek organizations with big houses and hundreds of members, says Dylan Bess, a 2004 USC graduate who is a national vice president with the fraternity.
“This house will help students see we are not limited,” Bess says.
The fraternity has about 20 members at USC, Bess says. Of the university’s 25,500 students last year, about 3,600 were Black.
— Associated Press
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