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My Big Fat Greek Renovation: Delta Chi modernizes

By Chris Curme
On January 27, 2014


When Delta Chi fraternity brothers noticed the walls of their fraternity house at 131 E. Withrow St. were falling down, they knew it was time for a change. That was last March when the fraternity put in motion what became a $1.2 million renovation, rebuilding the structure from the inside.

"We decided to do the renovation last March, but after what happened to the FIJI house, we decided to install fire alarm systems, sprinkler systems and all new electrical wiring," Taylor Freking, fraternity president, said.

The million-dollar renovation, which began in June, was the first time the house had been altered since the fraternity, brought to Oxford in 1932, bought the building in the early 1970s. Though the building was built as an apartment block, Freking said he sees that as an advantage, adding uniqueness to their organization.

"Our walls were coming down; the house was falling apart in general," Freking said. "We had to do something quick."

According to Freking, the donations came mostly from alumni, one anonymous donor in particular, and the rest from Delta Chi's national organization.

"Our main goal with the renovation was basically fire safety, so we installed the sprinklers, and I don't know of any other houses that have a sprinkler system," Freking said. "I saw this place with the walls down, and it's a miracle
it didn't burn."

While their house was under construction, Delta Chi residents lived in the Kappa Sigma house, according to Freking.

When asked if the renovation was targeted to allure potential rush candidates, Freking repeated the renovation's main purpose was fire safety and the general betterment of the house. However, he added that increased interest was certainly a desirable side-effect of the project.

Sophomore Tau Kappa Epsilon member Brandon Champion said he believes more than the house itself, the attitudes of the fraternity members create a
desirable environment.

"A good house definitely helps, but still, you can't have a beautiful house filled with a bunch of guys you don't like," Champion said.

"We're expecting more people to want to live in the house," Freking said. "It's usually sophomores in the house, who aren't allowed to live off-campus unless it's in a fraternity house. So we're competing with the dorms."

The building contains 14 apartment-style suites, four people to a room on the bottom floor and two on the top floor. According to Freking, of the roughly 360 fraternity members, 28 currently
occupy the house.

"We included all the furniture in our renovation to make it easy when the kids come back, and to try to attract the out-of-state kids," Freking said, adding each room contained a couch, chair, table, TV, desk, bedframe and refrigerator. "When kids come, all they need are their clothes."

Before the internal overhaul, Delta Chi members paid $2,800 to live inside. Now, that price has been raised to $4,000 for the spacious double rooms, and $3,000 for the quads, all fully furnished, sans mattress. Each suite has a living room, two bedrooms, a bathroom and a storage room.

Champion said the semi-private bathrooms give Delta Chi an edge, citing the communal bathrooms in most fraternity houses, which he generally finds less than clean.

"That's still pretty short compared to the university, who we're trying to compete with on prices," Freking said of the new price-tag.

Champion said competition certainly exists between university dorms and fraternity houses, but more than quality of living space, he seeks the independence that comes with frat house living.

"The rooms are similar to dorms, but the quality is a little less. They're a little older, less well-kept," Champion said, adding he would rather live in an off-campus house. "The rooms in the dorms are better, but you have more independence in a
fraternity house."

The increased cost is due in large part to an anticipated increase in demand, and to
offset the rehabilitation costs, Freking said.

Junior Joey Shapiro lives in the renovated house.

"I think the coolest point is that literally every room is nice, and no matter where you're set up, it's nice," Shapiro said.

As Freking walked through the house, pointing out where chandeliers are to be hung and where confining walls once stood in common spaces, he said the new space is remarkably different.

"We haven't really updated the ugly brick on the outside, but that's next, it looks pretty terrible out there," Freking said.

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