Ball State University is weighing plans for a sorority village that would house the growing number of women who want to be part of the school's Greek community.
The university's new strategic plans calls for the first phase of a sorority village to be completed by 2017. One proposal calls for building a townhouse-style complex that would house about five sorority chapters.
Another townhouse complex for five or so additional sorority chapters would be built in a subsequent phase.
Kay Bales, Ball State's vice president for student affairs, told The Star Press that the Muncie school is in the early exploratory phase of assessing a possible "group living community" for the university's sororities.
The number of students enrolled at Ball State who are members of a fraternity or sorority has increased nearly 50 percent in the past five years, from 1,197 in the fall of 2007 to 1,759 in the fall of 2012.
"There is a growing population of students who want to be part of the Greek community," Bales said.
She said research indicates students living in a community of people with shared interests see an improved retention rate and academic performance.
Ball State senior Whitney Hamblin, the president of the university's Panhellenic Council, said the biggest issue for the campus' sororities is a lack of adequate meeting places.
"We are so big now that the student center and other buildings are over-booked or over-programmed because there are so many of us," she said. "We have chapters of over 100 women. A sorority housing village would eliminate so many issues and allow us to meet together and live in that space."
While there are an equal number of fraternities and sororities on campus, with 15 each, fraternity houses hold an average of 40 men.
In contrast, there are only four sorority houses, former single-family homes large enough to accommodate only a handful of women.
"Their design is not meant for a community of women to live together or to provide the kind of facility that can accommodate activities sororities engage in on a daily basis," Bales said.
Over the past five years, the number of community service hours performed by Ball State's Greeks has soared, from 3,558 in spring 2007 to 15,541 in spring 2012. The amount raised by Greek groups for charitable purposes also increased, from $26,900 to $41,566.
During that period, sorority member grade point averages rose from 2.9 to 3.1, while fraternity GPAs rose from 2.8 to 2.87.