OWU’s Unique Panhellenic House Opens Multiple Doors for Sorority Members
When Ohio Wesleyan University’s new Panhellenic House opens in fall 2017, it will provide more than a physical dwelling for OWU sorority members.
“This house opens up doors for emerging leaders to take the skills and knowledge gained from living in this community and use them to the best of their ability within the Ohio Wesleyan community and in the world,” says Lydia Hall ’17, a Kappa Alpha Theta member.
“The members of the Panhellenic community are not just Greek women,” says Hall, a new alumna and former vice president of the Panhellenic Council. “They are students, athletes, employees, interns, and club leaders. … Our broad involvement at Ohio Wesleyan, as a Panhellenic community, has moved into a tangible atmosphere that encourages growth, inspires intellectual curiosity, promotes service, and supports the success of organizations across the campus.”
Located in a former fraternity building, Ohio Wesleyan’s new Panhellenic House will house up to 22 women from each of the university’s National Panhellenic sororities. While these sororities already have chapter houses for meetings and events, the chapter buildings are non-residential.
Ohio Wesleyan’s Panhellenic House is the only known dwelling in the United States purposely created to provide women from multiple sororities with a collaborative Greek living and learning environment. (Southern Methodist University in Dallas offers Panhellenic housing as overflow housing when its residential sorority houses fill to capacity.)
The Panhellenic House was conceived by Dana Behum, Ohio Wesleyan’s director of clubs and fraternity & sorority life, and created with leadership from the 2015-2016 OWU College Panhellenic executive board.
“OWU is unique, OWU Greek life is unique, and the Panhellenic House will showcase the best of what makes us special,” Behum says.
“The Panhellenic House is important to the OWU Greek community because it diversifies ‘the Hill,’ ” Behum continues. “Historically, Williams Drive has been home to men’s fraternity houses. The Panhellenic House will be the first Greek housing option for women in OWU history.”
OWU women from different chapters already live together in residential halls, Behum says. “So this opportunity to put a title on the community that we already support is just icing on the cake!”
The new Panhellenic House will be a “themed house” – similar to the Honors House and House of Black Culture – and, as such, won’t have to reapply each year to remain an approved campus dwelling.
Behum says the women already have decided they won’t host all-campus social events at the house, but they are excited about the opportunities it creates to collaborate more effectively to plan philanthropy, recruitment, and educational events.
To help the women turn their spacious new house into a true home, Behum says, they are reaching out to Ohio Wesleyan’s Alumni Interfraternity Council (AIFC) and Alumnae Panhellenic for help in enhancing the building’s common areas. The women have created a registry for gifts in hopes of creating a media room, craft area, and positive body room for yoga and similar activities.
Shelby Mackey ’18 will serve as the resident advisor for the Panhellenic House when it opens in August.
“I think we already have such strong Panhellenic relationships on our campus,” says Mackey, a Kappa Alpha Theta member.
“Each chapter is very supportive of the others’ philanthropies and other accomplishments,” Mackey concludes. “The addition of the house will only grow those relationships in number and in strength.”