September 6, 2011

Former SAE House Reopens as Campus Dorm

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The former Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity house on West Campus is now officially referred to as 122 McGraw Place, the newest undergraduate residential hall.

All SAE brothers were forced to vacate the house last March due to the death of George Desdunes ’13, who died after a SAE pledging event in February.  

According to Karen Brown, director of marketing and communications for campus life, the University officially reopened 122 McGraw Place as a residential hall at the start of this school year. It currently houses 29 residents along with one assistant residence hall director, she said.

Cornell has an agreement with SAE’s alumni association to use the building as a residence hall for five years, Brown said, adding that “the use of the building will be evaluated throughout and at the end of the agreement period.”

The online room selection portion of last year’s housing lottery ran from March 8 to 12, which means, according to Travis Apgar, associate dean of students, that the final decision to make 122 McGraw Place an official residential hall for the 2011-2012 school term was made after the housing lottery.

According to current 122 McGraw Place resident Alyssa Phelan ’14, most of the other residents of the building are juniors and seniors who were given offers to live in the house after last year’s housing lottery.  

In order to ensure safety and a more “comfortable atmosphere,” only “minor cosmetic renovations” were done to the house, said Apgar.

After the closure of the Cornell SAE chapter by the SAE National Organization, Student and Academic Services and Campus Life scheduled house renovations for 122 McGraw Place for last summer, according to Brown. The interior of the house now includes fresh paint and new carpeting.

However, according to Phelan, despite the renovations to all the rooms and kitchen, residents continue to lack necessities. For example, there are no garbage cans in the female restrooms.

“It’s understandable that the planners or construction workers weren’t able to think of every little female need while working on what used to be a fraternity house,” Phelan said.

No former SAE fraternity members remain in the house. According to Apgar, former SAE brothers will not be allowed to reside in 122 McGraw Place as regular student residents.

Since the closing of the building as a fraternity house, according to Brown, there have been a few incidents of vandalism, including broken windows, but no major damages to the building.

Apgar said he hopes a fraternity will eventually return to the location.

“In the future, I hope at some point, when appropriate, [SAE] or a fraternity will come back to reside in the house,” Apgar said. “But as of right now it has worked out quite well. We certainly need the spaces.”

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Original Author: Elaine Lin