By TODD GOTTULA
KEARNEY – The University of Nebraska at Kearney is considering plans to relocate fraternity and sorority chapters and residents to different housing on campus in 2020-21.
The decision is prompted by significant maintenance and mechanical infrastructure issues at University Residence North and University Residence South, the two buildings on the west side of campus that house residents in Greek life. The problems at the building are not structural in nature.
UNK officials met with Greek student leadership on Wednesday to discuss the situation, and the university will continue to consult chapter leadership for their input and planning.
The proposal under consideration moves the students currently housed in URN and URS to Nester Hall on the east side of campus. Built in 2006, Nester Hall is UNK’s newest on-campus residence hall, one of its most visible and a preferred housing choice for returning students. A plan to renovate the space includes chapter rooms and other community spaces common in Greek living.
No renovations, remodeling or decision to move students to Nester Hall will be made without approval from the University of Nebraska Board of Regents.
Renovation of the current buildings is not an option, with the cost to make repairs and renovate them estimated at $32 million and not considered a viable long-term solution. UNK also will not take on debt to build new housing for Greek life.
Twelve sororities and fraternities exist at UNK, with nine of those living in campus housing. A total of 203 Greek students currently live in URN and URS, which is about 50 percent of the 400 beds available.
Last September, UNK became aware of infrastructure issues when broken water lines and problems with the chilling system arose and flooded Alpha Xi Delta housing. Thirty-one students were relocated for the rest of the year. Soon after, UNK officials learned that similar infrastructure issues existed throughout URN and URS. Those include ventilation, electrical, additional mechanical issues, and challenges with moisture in the stick-built structure.
UNK fixed the broken lines and made other repairs this summer at a cost of $300,000, which allowed Alpha Xi Delta members to return there this fall.
University Residence North and University Residence south have housed UNK’s Greek community since 1991, when URS was built, and 1992, when URN was constructed. The buildings were constructed with a life expectancy of 20 years, as they were built at the time as a temporary and fast solution to issues within the Greek system.
UNK has invested $29 million in residence hall maintenance and construction since 2007.