Last Tuesday, MIT sorority Pi Beta Phi (Pi Phi) received a bid from the MIT Housing Office to lease 405 Memorial Drive, the house previously occupied by the Alpha Tau Omega fraternity. After occupancy terms are discussed between MIT and Pi Phi and a formal agreement is signed, the sorority will be able to move into the new house starting in Fall 2012.
Before Pi Phi can move into the house, final renovations must be completed. The house has already been renovated with new exterior brickwork, new windows, and plumbing. To make the house compliant with the standards set by the Americans with Disabilities Act, the kitchen has been torn out and replaced as a wheelchair accessible entrance. According to Henry J. Humphreys of the Department of Residential Life and Dining, the final renovations should be done within the next month.
As part of the five-year lease agreement, all Pi Phi sisters who live at 405 Memorial Drive must subscribe to the new dining plan because the house will no longer include a kitchen. Humphreys says the current lease agreement will give Pi Phi a separate dining area where Bon Appetit — the dormitory dining vendor — will deliver food. Further details about this plan are not currently available.
The leasing agreement will also include expectations for living standards set by MIT. The details of the lease will follow closely to what was included in the lease given to Kappa Alpha Theta when they moved into Green Hall. Sisters living in the new house will pay their housing expenses directly to the MIT Housing Office, which still has ownership of the property.
According to Marlena Martinez Love, assistant dean and director of fraternities, sororities, and independent living groups (FSILGs), Pi Phi was the only living group that applied to occupy 405 Memorial Drive. Pi Phi’s application was reviewed by a committee made up of Love, Association of Independent Living Groups Representative Robert V. Ferrara (also a senior administrator in the Division of Student Life), Director of Housing Dennis Collins, and Sanjay Divakaran, a representative from Kappa Sigma’s Alumni House Corporation. In a press release posted on the Division of Student Life website, Love said that “...[Pi Phi] will make excellent neighbors to the dormitories and other FSILGS along Amherst Alley.”
Since coming to the campus in Fall 2008, Pi Phi has been looking for a house on campus. “We are all really excited about this,” said Kathleen R. Geyer ’12, president of Pi Beta Phi. Geyer said that after hearing the good news, the sorority went out for dinner to celebrate.
While the sorority won’t be able to move into the house until next year, the MIT Housing office will offer tours of the new house to the sisters sometime during the semester. According to Geyer, the property will house about 50 sisters, or about half of the sorority.
The property has been under the management of the Department of Residential Life and Dining since ATO left. Management of the property will transfer to Pi Phi and their national sorority next fall. According to Geyer, Pi Phi’s national organization will share responsibility with the MIT chapter to establish house policies, zoning, and housing insurance.