Starting next fall, the sorority Alpha Epsilon Phi will not have a house to come home to. The sisters of AEPhi have decided not to renew a two-year housing lease, said incoming AEPhi President Elizabeth Katcoff ’08. The reason for the decision is not financial, she said, but is because the house has not played as big a role in helping the sisters spend more time together, as had originally been hoped.
Only about seven to nine sisters currently live in the house, which is located at 155 Bay State Road in Boston.
Even with a house, the sisters “ended up hanging out on campus more anyway,” Katcoff said. Next August all of the sisters will move back to campus. Katcoff lives on campus now.
As for the logistics of having meetings on campus, Katcoff said that meeting rooms will be reserved through the Campus Activities Complex. She said that the time that AEPhi had a house will only be a “small little blip” in the chapter’s history. Not having a house is “not going to change anything,” she said.
Katcoff said that the decision not to renew the lease is not financially related because AEPhi’s national organization is completely covering the cost of the house. Still, she said, a lot of work went into maintaining the house and money spent on paying for small items and electricity could now be spent on other activities.
The decision not to renew the lease was made together, Katcoff said. “We realized it wasn’t for us.”
Kaya Miller, assistant director of Fraternities, Sororities, and Independent Living Groups, also said that she was not aware of any financial reasons behind the decision. She said that the FSILG Office will help the sisters move back to campus in any way needed.
“Generally, Housing has been helpful,” said Shannon N. Nees ’07. “[But] it’s not a very common occurrence.”
Two-and-a-half weeks ago, both AEPhi’s outgoing president Emily D. Slutsky ’07 and incoming president Katcoff refused to comment on the situation, citing upcoming sorority recruitment. At that time, Nees said that “This shouldn’t be a big deal for them, since AEPhi has only had their house for two years … Their recruiting will still go well.”
This year, five women became new members of AEPhi during formal recruitment, and the sisters will continue to recruit informally, Katcoff said. The number is comparable to past years, she said, since about three to seven women join each year during formal recruitment.
This year, Katcoff said that the sorority was “completely honest with everybody” from the beginning of recruitment about the decision not to renew the lease. All new members were told that the sorority would not have a house next fall and all of them are “fine with it,” Katcoff said.
Last spring, the sorority decided to return to a Jewish identity in the weeks after recruitment. As a result, seven out of eight new members de-pledged and five members de-affiliated.
New member Katherine A. Puckett ’10 said that not having a house is “overall, kind of a bad thing, it’d be nice to have a place to hang out.… since we’re so small, we can hang out on campus.”
Puckett cited size as a major factor in her decision to join AEPhi. She said that she is looking forward to getting to know everybody and “becoming really close friends with everybody.”
“We don’t want to be a huge sorority,” Katcoff said.
The AEPhi house is currently valued at over $1 million and is owned by Mutaw, a corporation consisting of alumni of the Alpha Epsilon Pi fraternity, according to Boston property records. Alfred H. Bloom ’50, who is listed as the head of Mutaw Corporation, did not comment on the lease, but did confirm ownership of the AEPhi property. Bloom said that the future of the house has not been decided.