Alabama Taus earn approval for new house

1 March

Plans for a new house for Alpha Tau Omega are underway, and construction will begin pending the University’s Board of Trustees’ approval.

Gentry McCreary, director of greek affairs, said the current ATO house was built in the 1960s for about 70 or 80 men, but the fraternity has since swollen to become one of the largest on campus with around 135 members.

They need a new house because they have simply outgrown the current one, he said.

About 18 months ago, the Rotary House lot became available for construction, and several fraternities put in submittals to the University on why they believed the land should be awarded to them.

ATO was approved, but Walter Monroe, an alumnus of the UA chapter of ATO, said the approval was just the beginning. House plans were drawn up, and general contractors began bidding on them. Monroe said he volunteered to be involved with the construction and design.

“Plans are submitted to general contractors to keep it competitive,” he said. “And that way, the University pays lowest price by going with the lowest bidder’s bid. The successful bid has to be approved by the University’s Board, so we can’t start building until the Board of Trustees approves.

“It’s almost there,” Monroe added. “[The University has] torn down the Rotary House, and once the Board of Trustees approves the contract, construction will begin.”

It is one of the largest fraternities on campus, and ATO also has the highest overall GPA, about a 3.3. The fraternity’s GPA along with the members’ campus involvement, leadership roles and alumni involvement were all taken into account when they were awarded the Rotary House lot, Monroe said.

The current ATO house is about 15,000 square feet, and the new house will be approximately 27,000 square feet — about the size of the Delta Kappa Epsilon house.

“[The current] house houses about 20 members, and the new house will house 40 members,” Monroe said. “The individual dorm rooms will share bathrooms with the neighboring rooms, whereas now they have just a common bathroom on each floor.”

Jameson Hughston, ATO president and a junior majoring in political science, said being able to house more members will help the fraternity grow as a whole.

“It’s benefiting us to give the option to a lot more of our brothers to live in the house,” Hughston said. “With a new house, we feel that we’ll be able to keep up great grades and involvements and be able to get new recruits out of high school that share our standards.

“In a way, we feel like getting this lot is kind of a reward for being able to lead in grades,” Hughston said.

Among other amenities, the new house will feature larger common living areas, a room for parties, a courtyard and a larger dining room and kitchen.

“It’s one thing to serve 70 people out of a kitchen,” Monroe said. “It’s another thing to turn around and serve about 135 people.”

To help ATO keep up its overall GPA, a study room will be on each floor, and the rooms will be equipped with wireless internet provided through the University.

“There will also be a University telephone and security system, which we don’t have now,” Monroe said. “It’ll be a safer and more secure place for members.”

Hughston said he feels honored to have his fraternity chosen as the recipient of the lot.

“There were a lot of really good fraternities that wanted the lot — and were deserving of it — and we’re just extremely grateful to the selection committee for picking us. We see this as a tremendous opportunity to continue to make a positive impact on this campus,” he said.

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