On-campus fraternities move to Poyda for fall 2024

By Jake Tiger

Rider has decided to move its five on-campus fraternities into Poyda Hall from University House next fall due to a need for more space, separation and flexibility, according to Rider administrators.

After they moved back into University House last fall and ended a vacancy that began with the COVID pandemic, challenges arose and it was clear a change needed to be made, according to Dean of Residence Life Roberta Butler.

University House was initially home to Tau Kappa Epsilon and Sigma Phi Epsilon, but when Theta Chi re-established its chapter in 2018, Rider had to squeeze a third fraternity into the building — one too many, according to Butler.

“It wasn’t designated for three separate organizations,” said Butler. “That’s not the density … it was necessarily built for.”

While Rider’s fraternities are set to move into Poyda, they won’t have the whole building to themselves, instead sharing it with standard residential students. Each fraternity will have its own sectioned-off wing on separate floors of the residence hall with the rest of the rooms remaining the same.

Members of Rider’s fraternities expressed that, while they enjoyed the compact and tight-knit feel of University House, they were excited about their new, larger home.

 Sophomore global supply chain major Kyle Gerber, Sigma Phi Epsilon’s vice president of recruitment, said University House was “outdated” and the house had to share one washer and one dryer.

Junior exercise science major Rohit Chatterjee, Sigma Phi Epsilon’s president, said, “It was a new experience. … It felt like having housemates. It didn’t really feel like a dorm to the guys.”

Chatterjee lives off campus but said, if he wasn’t in class, he was in University House spending most of his time with his brothers, similarly to the president of Theta Chi, sophomore finance major Jason Aretino.

Aretino lives in Poyda this year and was optimistic about the rest of his brothers moving into the space.

“I’ve liked it there, haven’t had any issues,” said Aretino. “The overall experience will probably be better and we’ll have more people around.”

A driving factor behind the decision was the maneuverability it offered the university, as the many beds not filled by fraternities in Poyda could easily be occupied by students seeking a suite.

In University House, unfilled beds stayed that way with residential students not wanting to move into a spare room in a densely packed fraternity house, according to Butler.

The InterFraternal Council fraternities in University House are given a quota each semester, needing to fill six rooms with two beds each. The number of brothers living in the building would “ebb and flow” each semester, with some fraternities having too many beds and some not having enough, Butler said.

 This spring, Rider filled 34 of 42 beds in University House, according to Butler.

With the move to Poyda, each fraternity will now have 14 rooms totalling 28 beds, which the university is hoping will create larger, more connected communities, according to Kadi Diallo, Rider’s director of student involvement and first year programs.

The five fraternities currently occupying University House are Sigma Phi Epsilon, Theta Chi and Tau Kappa Epsilon, which make up the institution’s IFC, as well as a handful of brothers from Lambda Theta Phi Fraternity Inc. and Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity Inc., which are multicultural and historically Black fraternities, respectively, Diallo said.

After being made aware of the decision, each of Rider’s IFC fraternities were given a choice: move into Poyda or have brothers “scattered” around campus, according to Gerber.

Diallo said Tau Kappa Epsilon was the only fraternity that decided against moving into the building.

Tau Kappa Epsilon’s president, junior music theory major Anthony Fontana, was unavailable for an interview with The Rider News.

Butler said the perks of Poyda were another significant reason why the administration chose to transition fraternities there, as the recently renovated building could better accommodate fraternities.

Rider overhauled Poyda in summer 2023, outfitting the residence with new lighting, flooring, paint and air conditioners. 

“So many of the men in the beginning of the [fall] semester experienced challenges because it’s hot in the building,” said Butler of air conditioner deficient University House. “Those were some of the things we looked at. … What was the building that was going to give them the most perks while continuing to be fair and equitable across [campus]?”

Butler also cited the adjacent parking lot as another convenience for brothers living in Poyda.

The university did not have the fraternities in mind when it chose to upgrade the residence hall last summer, Butler said.

The administration was undecided on the future of University House, as it will depend on the number of beds needed next fall. If not used as housing, the building would be rented to an outside organization, according to Butler.

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