Ian Benson


After four years of living in campus houses, The College of Wooster Greek organizations will be returning to Bissman Hall in the fall of 2014. The dorm housed the Greeks from its construction in 1968 until they were moved into houses in 2010.

Both the community itself and the administration prompted the move. Part of the original rationale for placing the Greeks in houses was that they were struggling to fill Bissman to capacity, and the administration felt the space could be better used as first-year housing. With two new Greek groups and an overall increase in size, Galpin feels that it will be easier for the building to be filled.

The move is also meant to improve town-gown relations, particularly along College Avenue and Spink Street. While relations are good most days, weekends have caused friction between the two. “Six out of seven days of the week, the relationship is fine,” Dean of Students Kurt Holmes said. “But when it’s the weekend and it’s warm, we get complaints all night.” By moving the Greeks back to Bissman, the administration hopes to minimize the number of complaints from the surrounding neighborhood.

Two new Greek groups (Kappa Epsilon Zeta and Eta Pi) have started since the move from Bissman, and as it currently stands, all of the groups will have some stake in the building. Some groups might only have one floor of one section if only a small number express interest in living in Bissman, but all are a part of the discussion going forward.

Still, not all groups are excited, having become attached to the houses that they have lived in for the last four years. “Some groups are excited about the move back, while others are more hesitant, preferring the system in place,” Holmes said.

Renovations are currently planned to make the building more conducive to the community, while also updating and improving the space as a whole. The rooms will remain predominantly doubles, though the administration is willing to negotiate so that certain students, such as the officers, can have singles. “The long term goal, within three to five years, is to eventually wean down to singles,” Holmes said.

There was also discussion about having both Armington and Bissman house the Greeks, but it was decided that only Bissman would make the transition for at least the first year.

As for the houses that will be vacated by the Greeks, the plan is to fold them into the existing Wooster Volunteer Network Program Houses. The increase in houses available will allow for more groups to be approved and a greater commitment to the program.

Originally some of the houses were used as first-year programs, with certain First Year Seminars all living together. This program was disbanded when the Greeks moved into the houses and it will not be resurrected when they move out. “Places that have done a first-year living program committed to it fully and tailored their first-year experience around that,” Holmes said. “We didn’t, and there were problems because of that, so we won’t be bringing it back.”

Andrews Hall is currently planned to house first-years and the new Gault Schoolhouse will be used to assuage the housing woes that Res Life has faced in recent years.

In other housing news, there has been preliminary discussion about permanently closing down Holden Annex. With the addition of the school house, it would be possible to close down the dorm while still having space for every student, though it does not allow for excess rooms in case of overflow. The administration and Board of Trustees are currently exploring options.