Campus awaits effects of Few shuffle

Independents hoping to become a greater part of the West Campus social scene may be out of luck-at least until next Spring.

Although the Campus Culture Initiative Steering Committee advocated empowering independents socially, the renovation of Few Quadrangle, which is slated to be completed by Spring '09, will increase the presence of selective living members on West.

"A lot of things are driven by a few people setting the image," sophomore Ying-Ying Lu said. "On such a relatively small campus a little change in numbers is a big change."

Residence Life and Housing Services assigned housing on West during the Few Quad renovation to all five selective living groups currently located in the quad, relocating 394 independents.

Although most students interviewed by The Chronicle said they did not foresee the dynamic on West changing dramatically, some expressed concern that the decreased percentage of independents could affect the social scene.

RLHS will adjust the gender distribution of rooms when adding bed spaces to West to maintain the current male-female ratio, said Marijean Williams, director of housing assignments and communications.

Selective living groups, including fraternities, have 764 bed spaces reserved on West. The occupancy makes up 28.5 percent of the 2,667 West bed spaces this year and will comprise 33.6 percent of the campus next Fall, RLHS officials said.

A total of 406 bed spaces on West are set aside for fraternity members, which currently make up 15.1 percent of the campus and will comprise nearly 18 percent next semester.

These percentages, which were miscalculated in RLHS' previous reports to The Chronicle, were computed from West's occupancy data.

Campus Council President Ryan Todd, a senior, said the actual percentage of selective living group members on West next semester may be less than projected, as some groups may not remain on campus.

Todd declined to name any groups in question.

Several students said because the social scene on West is already dominated by selective living groups the Few Quad renovation will not affect the dynamics on campus.

"I still think [the social scene] would be very fraternity- and selective-living-group-driven," sophomore Chrissy Ziccarelli said. "The way the culture is on West already-they're determining the parties every weekend."

Others speculated that the number of parties hosted by selective living groups on West will not increase.

"I don't think that there will be a really great, drastic impact or change because these fraternities have been on West, so the number of parties and the number of people who attend these parties will be the same," sophomore Angela Chang said.

Selective living groups members added that their events are not exclusive and they have frequent interactions with other students.

"I feel like the changes wouldn't be that drastic as a lot of the events that we host are not specifically only open to members of a selective living group," said sophomore David Lazar, a member of Alpha Epsilon Pi fraternity.

But junior Aileen Liu said the changes will create another barrier for independents in holding social events, especially those comparable to ones hosted by selective living groups.

Others noted that the renovation could make West even more geared toward the living communities, causing independents to become less involved in the social scene.

"Not even just in terms of the types of people who are going to be [on West], but the spaces that are going to be occupied and just the sense of belonging and not belonging," Lu said. "It's a type of ownership of space and, indirectly, of Duke."

As a resident assistant on East Campus, Lu said the renovations have influenced her housing search on West next year.

"From an RA's point of view, I like [Crowell Quadrangle] because none of the selective living groups that are in Few [Quad] are going to be moving there," she said. "I'm personally staying away from certain selective living groups."

Todd noted that when the renovated Few Quad opens in Spring 2009, juniors coming back from abroad will have the opportunity "to choose their preferred roommate on Main West [Quadrangle] in a pretty desirable dorm."

"When people talk about independent juniors being marginalized because fraternities are staying on campus, it's important not to forget that the independents coming back from abroad are going to have one of the greatest opportunities," he said. "That hasn't been offered in, I don't know, maybe ever,"

There are spots on Central typically reserved for graduate and professional students, but they will be given to undergraduates to accommodate the lost spaces on West. With the increased undergraduate presence, Central may become a new center for undergraduate activity, sophomore Bethany Hill said.

"Central Campus could be the new 'hip' campus," she said. "I can see [Central] as becoming a social space and that would also increase campus unity because no selective living groups are there."

But Liu said independents who are shifted off West will feel as distant to the social scene as she currently does living on Central.

"I feel really isolated from West Campus-I hardly ever socialize on West Campus anymore," she explained. "It's hard to pull together friends impromptu because everyone's spread out on West Campus and blocking [on Central] is harder."

Some students said their greater worry for living off campus or on Central stems from the recent spike in local crime.

"With all these crimes recently, it just scares me even more because I'm probably going to live off campus next year because there's no guarantee I'm going to get on-campus housing," Liu said.

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