Delta Sigma Theta Sorority House Renovation Creates Added Visibility
Lambda Theta Chapter President Skyye Robinson and First Vice President Ranique Daniel.
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – The Lambda Theta Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc. started the semester in a newly renovated house. The renovation, which was completed over the summer, has already created better visibility for the sorority, which residents believe will also impact equity for other historically Black organizations and African American students at the University of Arkansas.
The project, overseen by Facilities Management, transformed the original duplex into a modern multi-level sorority house. Contractors merged the two spaces, converted one kitchen to a living space, added an accessible bathroom and spare room, and made modifications to the existing bedrooms and bathrooms.
The sorority's previous house on North Duncan had been the place of many fond memories, but extensive structural damage to the building and maintenance concerns forced the switch to the duplex on Stadium Drive. Although initially hesitant about the move, the completion of the project has the tenants excited about the future possibilities of the house.
"We were just so excited to see the vision that we had been talking about with Facilities Management come to life," said Skyye Robinson, president Lambda Theta Chapter. "Honestly, they exceeded my expectations. What I expected was a great looking house that was livable, but I got much more than that. We got much more than that. We will definitely miss the history from 3 North Duncan, but we'll always have that. So we're grateful for this new beginning and extremely excited with the new relationship we have with Facilities Management because of the work that they've done here."
"I am extremely pleased with the renovation and teamwork from across the University to make this project a reality," said Parice Bowser, director of Greek Life. "For years, the Lambda Theta Chapter has continued to pave the way for many African American students on the U of A campus. They are actively involved and work diligently to make a difference in all they do through scholastic, social, and educational programming efforts. It's a joy to see them excited about their new home and the memories that will be made on Stadium Drive."
Involvement in a renovation process was a new experience for the women of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc., and the short timeframe made it additionally challenging. However, they credit the success to the relationships built with Facilities Management, the coordinators involved, and the expectations set by Vice Chancellor Mike Johnson.
"Mike really set the tone, and I think that makes all the difference. His leadership from day one laid a path for his team to follow," said Karrie Claybrook, primary advisor of the Lambda Theta Chapter.
"It also speaks to the value of having diverse coordinators on all university projects," Claybrook said. "Take Vel for example (Vel Moses, construction coordinator). As an African American, he brings a different perspective to the team. His understanding of our organization's rich history including the inequities the chapter has overcome in the past, shows in his attention to detail on the project."
The new house is located closer to the other sorority and fraternity houses on campus and is expected to help with awareness of the sorority. The women believe this will go a long way in increasing minority representation on campus.
"We're more visible," Robinson said. "Our presence has grown stronger just by a location change. And like I said, just being able to see us will make [other students] go research us to see what we're about and what we stand for."
Ranique Daniel, first vice president of the Lambda Theta Chapter, added, "It's what we needed to be able to head in the right direction towards creating equity for African American students as well."
Reflecting on the process, Claybrook said she believes the experience was an opportunity for personal growth for the women, which will impact them and future members of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. for years to come.
"I can see a change in them and their confidence and their belief in who they are and what they can accomplish. That's what a house can do. It's so small. It's so simple, but it's powerful."
About Delta Sigma Theta: The Lambda Theta Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc. was established in 1974 on the University of Arkansas campus as the first National Pan-Hellenic Council organization. A private, not-for-profit organization, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority is focused on the constructive development of its members and to public service with a primary focus on the Black community.
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