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FHSU hopes groups 'buy in' to housing plan





Fort Hays State University recently completed the design phase of another on-campus housing opportunity.

In addition to the reconstruction of Wiest Hall dormitory, themed housing will provide an additional 100 beds next door.

The housing will contain four separate communities with single-occupancy bedrooms. Each community will be comprised of a different campus group or organization.

Two of the units will contain 28 beds, one will have 21 beds and one will have 20 single-occupancy rooms in addition to the graduate assistant's room.

The residents for the various communities have yet to be decided, but Greek organizations, international students and honor communities are deciding whether to "buy in" to the plan.

"Right now, some groups are looking at fundraising options," said Jacob Ternes, coordinator of student involvement and Greek life. "We've asked groups who are interested to commit by March."

Due to the smaller structure, the interested organizations have to file an application and provide the finances.

"It's more expensive to build a smaller unit, so there's a buy-in fee," said Tisa Mason, vice president of student involvement.

The total cost is $250,000 for the 28-bed option; $190,000 for the 21-bed option.

The new facility aims to provide student organizations with a safe, up-to-date housing option, Ternes said.

"With the new facility, we can provide things such as sprinkle systems, fire suppressions," Ternes said. "Off-campus houses may not have all these safety features."

In addition, alumni would be able to receive tax benefits for donating.

"This provides an opportunity for alumni who are interested in financially supporting the facility to get tax benefits," Ternes said, "because they are making a donation to the university instead of a privately owned house."

Each community will be housed separated within the themed house, but there will be a dining area as well as common study spaces.

"It's right next door to the new freshman residents hall," Ternes said. "Hopefully this will bring more of a connection between our current members and the rest of the student population. That's one of the complaints we hear, that fraternity and sorority members are elitist and they want to go off in their own area. We want to engage with the rest of the population."

Mason said this will help with the housing shortage without sacrificing the safety of students.

"Bigger isn't always better," she said. "We want smaller, yet affordable. The smaller the community, the better they'll get to know each other. They'll know who's coming in and out of the building."

The facility is set to open with Wiest Hall in fall 2016.