Our Impact

  • While universities and colleges are often hailed as assets to their community, the city of Madison has repeatedly received the short end of the stick.

    State Street is now slowly overtaken with luxury apartments marketed towards students. Consequently, lower-income students and community members struggle to find safe, affordable housing as city officials scramble to address Madison’s shrinking vacancy rate of just 3%.

    So how did we get here?

    Gentrification has become an increasingly contentious topic in recent years, and universities are not exempt from the trend and its negative impacts on communities. Colleges expanding into urban communities are partially to blame; Bloomberg CityLab called American universities’ effect on cities “a paradox of prosperity,” as the same institutions that make contributions to technology simultaneously create economic segregation and urban inequality. 

    Bookstores become high-rise apartments; local pharmacies are forced to relocate. Wisconsin’s capital city is changing, and it may be our fault. 

    For our fall 2021 Action Project, “Our Impact: The Student Living Issue,” the Daily Cardinal partnered with the Poynter Institute for Media Studies to responsibly report on this local and national issue as it impacts both the lives of students and long-time residents. To do so, our staff took an in-depth look at the various options for student housing in Madison — Dorms, Luxury, Greek Life, Off-Campus and Commuting — and analyzed their costs, sustainability and long-lasting effects on the surrounding community.

    Now, we invite you to do the same.

    Explore all student housing by scrolling down, or “Choose your Impact” by selecting your living situation from the menu above.

Choose: Dorms

Witte, Chadbourne, Phillips, Liz Waters and more — there’s a dorm for (almost) every UW-Madison freshman. College news reporter Hannah Ritvo reported that 89% of all first-year students chose to live in one of the 21 residence halls UW offers. Their reason?

“Cost and social scene were probably the biggest factors for me,” said freshman Claudia Otero, a Dejope resident. “It was important to have an affordable place to live, while it was also important to have a large social scene close to me.”

Many Badgers continue to make this decision because of residence halls’ proximity to classes, inviting atmosphere and provided amenities. 

Welcoming the largest of undergraduate students this academic year, the UW-Madison has faced obstacles in accommodating students seeking on-campus housing, leaving questions about the future of UW Housing and its growth.

With the enrollment of 8,465 first-year students this fall, the university was forced to address overflow issues by converting dens and common spaces into dorm rooms as well as larger rooms into triples and quads. The Lowell Center — a campus conference center and hotel — was also transitioned into a temporary residence hall facility. 

This issue is bound to be exacerbated by upcoming demolition of two UW Housing facilities, Davis Residence Hall and the Zoe Bayliss Co-Op, after the 2022-23 academic year to make room for a new College of Letters & Science building, College editor Sophia Vento detailed.

Overcrowding and cost of living in on-campus housing has since been at the forefront of minds across the campus community.

University Housing Communications Director Brendon Dybdahl stated that freshman housing plans for two semesters — seven to eight months — can cost anywhere from $10,000 to $14,100, depending on which dining plan a student decides to purchase. The combined mid-tier dining plan is priced between $10,400 and $13,200, while the typical off-campus resident, nationally, spends about $10,781 for an entire year of room and board according to a report from the Education Data Initiative.

On-campus housing costs at UW-Madison are low compared to some other Big Ten schools, a fact that Dybdahl characterizes as typical. The University of Michigan-Ann Arbor housing website lists the basic on-campus plan as ranging from $11,130 to $16,600, depending on room type, College news reporter Kodie Engst wrote.

Graphic by Ali Leib

However, on-campus housing wasn’t always guaranteed.

“Housing became a very serious problem for the university after World War II,” Director of the UW-Madison Public History Project Kacie Lucchini Butcher said. “After World War II, the university population boomed. We [had] so many students coming back from war. A lot of students had the GI Bill, so their education was being paid for, but also it’s coming at a time when there’s an increased awareness that college is important.”

To accommodate this influx of students, the UW-Madison Campus Planning Commission approved construction efforts for 12 new buildings and expansions on campus following World War II. In the meantime, some students lived in metal huts, tents and trailers wherever there was open space on campus, Features editor Gina Musso discovered.

Finding off-campus options at the time posed other challenges, as the surge in student population occurred before the Fair Housing Act passed in 1968, which legally prohibited individuals from being discriminated against based on their race, religion, national origin, sex, disability and family status.

“So these students would go to apply to these apartment buildings, these dorms, and many students of color and Jewish students would be rejected from these apartment buildings based solely on their religion or their race,” Lucchini Butcher said.

To build more housing facilities, the university had to encroach on Madison’s existing neighborhoods. One of these areas, Madison’s Greenbush neighborhood located south of campus, was a historically Jewish, Italian and Eastern European neighborhood before the city moved residents out for redevelopment.

“So the city kind of comes in and says ‘These are unsafe living conditions, we want to redevelop this area to make it safer for the residents,’” Lucchini Butcher said. “Except they kick all those residents out, tear it down and they don’t let those residents come back. So they force these people out into other places. So this happened all across the country in almost every major city during the 1960s [and] 70s and it continues to happen.”

Lucchini Butcher acknowledged that while these redevelopments were not made specifically for the university, many of the developments that were built were likely intended to be used by the student population.

That’s not to say that UW’s surrounding neighborhoods were the only populations displaced on Madison’s isthmus.

Photo Courtesy of UW-Madison

The University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Housing division provides students with a plethora of options — one can live by the lake or downtown, in a single or a quad or in a variety of learning communities.

But one thing no student can opt out of is living on stolen land.

Land acknowledgements have made it common knowledge that the state university is on land that has been the ancestral home of the Ho-Chunk people for millennia, but what the university tends to overlook is the historical and present-day implications of its status as a land-grant university.

Last month, the Ho-Chunk Nation and the University of Wisconsin installed a plaque near South Hall on Bascom Hill entitled “Our Shared Future,” representative of the university’s initiative of the same name that aims to demonstrate its respect and support of the sovereign First Nations of Wisconsin.

First-year UW-Madison student Silas Cleveland, who is a citizen of the Ho-Chunk Nation, discussed the university’s land acknowledgment and its purpose.

“It helps people realize that this all was Native land before Manifest Destiny,” Cleveland said about the initiative and the United States’ expansion sparked by 19th-century beliefs that it was inevitable and justifiable.

Cleveland further explained to College news reporter Claire LaLiberte that acknowledgments like the plaque help educate students who may not otherwise think critically about how this land came to belong to the United States — not through a mutual agreement, but by force.

Many public universities like UW-Madison have their origin in the Morrill Act, which was passed under President Abraham Lincoln and distributed the rights to public-domain land to state universities so that they could raise funds.

Today, UW-Madison is proud to call itself a land-grant university, espousing the mission of higher education for all, honoring Lincoln in bronze at the top of Bascom Hill. But both Lincoln and the Morrill Act’s histories are colored with oft-overlooked atrocities. Most see Lincoln as a hero who freed the slaves; few hold him accountable for the largest mass hanging in U.S. history.

Photo by Morgan Winston

In the aftermath of a bloody 1862 conflict between white settlers and several Minnesota bands of Dakota people, the United States tried 303 Dakota men for “killings committed in warfare” (a crime which both sides had committed, as is the nature of war). Their trial was conducted by a U.S. military commission and its fairness reviewed by the U.S. president. Upon review, Lincoln ordered the unjust execution of 38 men.

UW-Madison displays his statue front and center as one of our most iconic campus landmarks.

That same year, Lincoln signed the aforementioned Morrill Act.

In 1832, the Ho-Chunk Nation ceded the land that Madison now occupies. The rights were signed over in a treaty that was then enforced through decades of brutality and violence. The university’s first residence hall, North Hall, is no exception to the historical pattern of disrespect to the land and its people. The construction of the first few buildings on campus destroyed a sacred Ho-Chunk burial mound; it is estimated that over 80% of these mounds were victims of construction in the Madison area, once home to the greatest concentration of mounds in the world.

The installment of UW-Madison’s new “Our Shared Future” plaque goes a step further from just recognizing the existence of Wisconsin’s tribes. The plaque acknowledges the genocide endured by the Ho-Chunk people at the hands of the state and federal governments, and states the university’s eagerness to collaborate with the tribe in order to create a better future —

A future for all who live on this land.

Choose: Luxury

Living in the lab of luxury. If you’re looking for rooftop swimming pools, in-building gyms and shiny rec rooms, then a luxury student apartment may be your first option. Characterized by a $1000 rent minimum, luxury student apartments dot W Gorham St., State Street and University Ave. Well-known names include the James, the Hub, Lucky and the Towers on State.

And if developers have their way, then there will be plenty more luxury high-rises on the horizon.

When a developer proposed “Hub II”, a seven-story student apartment building with a rooftop swimming pool to be built on Langdon Street, then-student and District 8 Alder Sally Rohrer remembered being “sketched out.”

“It felt so strange when something’s happening that’s going to affect students, but it’s not being advertised to them. It wasn’t being widely talked about on campus,” Rohrer recalled of the 2019 project proposal. “There was a lot of sketchy business with the developers getting students to testify in favor of the development. ”

Photo by Leah Voskuil

The 124-unit building — slated to be nicknamed “The Langdon” — was designed to occupy the empty lot at 126 Langdon St. and serve as Core Spaces LLC’s third student apartment building in Madison alongside the James and the Hub. Its location would situate the apartments within a historic downtown neighborhood between the University of Wisconsin-Madison fraternity and sorority houses.

Sure enough, when Greek life heard about the project, many were less than pleased.

“We found out, once you started telling people what was happening and talking to Greek life, that the majority of people didn’t want this to happen. It was one of those experiences where you realize that stuff like this can fly under the radar,” Roher said.

In the end, the question of cost wasn’t what put the project on hold. The Madison Plan Commission ultimately voted to reject the Hub II construction proposal, pointing to safety concerns and an “unrefined aesthetic.”

“Langdon is a very special street in this city and I think even though it is not a local [historic] district, people view it as a local district,” Commissioner Bradley Cantrell said at the time. “I don’t think this project is there yet … I’m struggling with the rhythm and the mass of this building that we’re looking at.”

But the idea of Hub II didn’t just go away. It resurfaced not two years later as “Oliv Madison,” a new student housing project from Core Spaces that is slated to offer 10% of its beds at a discounted rate. A discounted bed is expected to be rented at the average price of $740.

As students combat the idea of another luxury apartment building on campus, Editor-in-Chief Addison Lathers asked: Where did these overpriced buildings come from?

Photo by Taylor Wolfram

Core Spaces is surely making its mark on Madison’s downtown, but UW-Madison students aren’t its only target.

Core Spaces is one of the nation’s leading developers, owners and operators of luxury properties in educational markets. As a vertically integrated company, Core Spaces purchases land, develops plans, builds and then rents its spaces to students directly. By managing its own supply chain, which is also owned by the company, Core Spaces cuts out the middleman.

On Nov. 4, Core Spaces announced a partnership with Ares Management Corporation to acquire a portfolio of five apartment buildings valued together at over $400 million. The news serves as the “initial transaction” for the partnership, as the two entities will further seek to grow their respective student housing portfolios centering on college and university markets across the country.

“We’re excited to partner with Core Spaces and add these five newly constructed properties to Ares’ strong and growing U.S. multifamily portfolio, which today includes approximately 25,000 units across over 85 properties,” said David Roth, the head of U.S. real estate equity at Ares Real Estate Group. “This transaction highlights Ares’ ability to transact across the risk/return spectrum.”

Meaning, student housing is a rising market, and more and more investors are becoming interested in getting their own slice of the luxury dorm pie.

Their projects extend from coast to coast, with multiple cities finding themselves home to one or more Core Spaces properties. In September, the LLC secured construction financing for the development of its second property serving students at the University of Southern California — Hub on Campus II. Some of its other locations include Hub Lexington (catering to the University of Kentucky), Oliv Tucson (University of Arizona) and the Hub Tuscaloosa (University of Alabama).

We can’t afford the next generation of student housing, but that won’t stop it from being built coast to coast.

While student groups in Madison have been quick to raise the alarm on the LLC’s new developments, other cities have provided incentives to the company. The State College’s Borough Council, which is a town dominated by Pennsylvania State University, passed a resolution in October approving a performance bond for Core Spaces. The Daily Collegian reported that the project will utilize the borough’s Green Certified Incentive, which enables LEED-certified or equivalent buildings the ability to reduce required minimum parking at the development site.

A bond amount of $191,000 was passed unanimously by the council to benefit the construction of Hub State College.

Photo by Cameron Lane-Flehinger

Core Spaces’ current downtown project, Oliv Madison, has not been received positively by the State Street community, many of whom are concerned with potential changes to the street. Some have cited both the design of the apartment as well as the removal of several small businesses as concerns regarding the project.

District 4 Alder Michael Verveer shares many of these concerns. Verveer oversaw the planning of Hub Madison, a similar high-rise luxury apartment located near campus that was also built by Core Spaces.

Verveer explained in an interview with City news reporter Charlie Hildebrand that the end result of the Hub Madison was noticeably different from the proposed plan. Verveer went on to state that he feels that the Core Spaces development detracts from the State Street area.

“I was horrified at how the Hub ended up in terms of its design. It looked a hell of a lot better on paper than it ended up looking being built, especially the blank walls of the tower. Whenever I’m on Gilman or State, I get sick to my stomach. I feel like it’s my fault that we didn’t force them to have better quality materials or more windows, that sort of thing,” Verveer said.

But businesses have received the shorter end of the stick.

A Room of One’s Own, a bookstore previously located on West Gorham Street was one of several stores that were forced to relocate after their landlord sold their building to Core Spaces. A spokesman associated with A Room of One’s Own expressed their discontent with losing their State Street location to the Daily Cardinal.

“[We were] surprised, sad and scrambling to find a new place. We hoped to stay downtown but didn’t find any spaces that would work for us,” A Room of One’s Own said in an email. “We did not have any say in the process and would not have chosen to relocate.”

A Room of One’s Own believes that gentrification plays a role in the stores being sold to Core Spaces. A Room of One’s Own explained that the bookstore was “sad and frustrated that some long-standing local businesses in historic buildings were pushed out.”

Graphic by Jennifer Schaller

So what’s in store for the future of State Street?

In the past decade, the city of Madison has grown substantially, having gained an additional 75,361 residents with much of that growth being centered in the downtown area.

Such changes have caused the local community to question what the historic area will look like as Madison continues to grow as a city — not just its campus area. City news reporter Francesca Pica reports that as State Street looks to its future, two proposals in particular look to transform much of Madison’s retail, dining and cultural center.

One of the two proposed changes potentially coming to state street is to develop the 400-600 blocks of the area into a pedestrian mall. Pedestrian malls are streets lined with storefronts that only allow foot traffic, closing off all access via automobiles, including buses.

The proposal aims to turn the streets into a large walkway inaccessible to cars for pedestrians and allow businesses to take up more space outside. Additionally, it would facilitate the planting of trees as well as create more space for public artwork. The pedestrian mall proposal would not complicate current plans to create bus routes on the upper part of State Street, as no routes are slated to be built along the 400 through 600 blocks.

In January, the Wisconsin State Journal editorial board advocated for removing vehicles from blocks 400 through 600 on State Street for this very purpose. According to the board, turning part of State Street into a pedestrian mall will have a profoundly positive impact on Madison’s local economy by encouraging individuals to shop at and dine on state street.

“Madison should multiply this successful effort by removing buses and cabs from State Street and letting pedestrians take over,” the board wrote. “Doing so will bring back business and jobs. It will excite shoppers, diners and attract more tourists and events.”

Photo by Wisconsin Historical Society, WHS-51706 (left) and Taylor Wolfram (right)

The second biggest factor to weigh is, of course, even more luxury housing. Developers will looking to construct housing units on State Street, with additional apartment complexes likely to be constructed along a part of the upper end of the street to address Madison’s housing shortage.

Oliv Madison would turn much of the 300 block of State Street into housing.

According to Core Spaces senior development manager Mark Goehausen, the redevelopment is expected to attract more students and young professionals to the area.

“Core continues to be a very big believer in the city of Madison and the market for student housing in town,” said Goehausen. “This site, being centrally located between the university and the Capitol building, should draw both student and young-professional residents.”

Tim Kamps, chair of the Mifflin District of Capitol Neighborhoods, voiced his support for the development of housing in the downtown area but also raised concerns about the large size of the project.

“The workforce and affordable units being proposed are a huge positive,” Kamps said. “But there will be concerns around displacement of businesses, especially those on Gorham Street, as well as the size and height.”

It’s a difficult choice, to approve a project and risk businesses or deny a development and lose precious living space. It’s not a decision that will be made easy, but housing must be built.

Choose: Off-Campus

Out of the dorms and into the street, off-campus housing in surrounding neighborhoods is a popular choice for a majority of the students.

Mifflin, Camp Randall and the “Sophomore Slums” are a few of the iconic off-campus areas surrounding UW-Madison. These neighborhoods are made up by houses, apartments and townhouses. Come for the cheap rent, stay for the tailgates.

But does the name “Sophomore Slums” really fit the neighborhood?

Student housing just south of campus in the College Court, Spring Street, Greenbush and Vilas neighborhoods has long been affectionately referred to as the “sophomore slums.” To many students, the low-rise apartments and older homes in the area are a step below offerings near University Avenue, State Street and Langdon Street, where high-end apartments and spacious houses are far more common.

But the students who live there aren’t sure the name fits the neighborhood, State news reporter Tyler Katzenberger reported.

“It’s a funny name, but I wouldn’t refer to it as a slum,” said Kayleigh Westmore, a sophomore who lives in the Greenbush neighborhood. “It’s just more of a basic neighborhood [and] there’s a lot of upperclassmen who live around here, renting out whole houses.”

Photo by Drake White-Bergey

“I wouldn’t say that it’s derogatory, but I’d certainly say it’s an exaggeration,” said Noah Fellinger, a sophomore living on Fahrenbrook Court. “I’ve seen places elsewhere in areas outside the ‘sophomore slums’ that are much worse for much higher rent.”

Westmore and Fellinger’s views are shared by most other residents, many of whom cite location as one of the biggest appeals. The neighborhood has a high walkability score compared to the rest of Madison, and key locations such as Engineering Hall, Bascom Hill, the Nicholas Recreation Center and Union South are within a 20-minute walk.

Another major housing consideration for students is affordability. According to a 2020 UW-Madison Geography Department study, affordability is “very” or “extremely” important to 60.4% of student renters. Most students define “affordable” as anywhere from $500-$749, but with the median off-campus price per bedroom at $938.23 per month, balancing price with quality and proximity to campus is challenging.

Apartments and houses meeting the “affordable” definition of under $750 per bedroom are far more common in the sophomore slums, with some rents as low as $450 for students who choose to share a room.

Graphic by Hannah Kennedy

And as renting season begins in Madison, students are signing onto leases faster than ever before. As they consider options, one of the factors they must think about is the price of housing – a cost that has been growing continuously over time. Among the goods most impacted by inflation are food, gas and one that influences UW-Madison students firsthand during the renting season – housing.

Alumni shared their stories with Associate reporter Sam Tuch to show how much rent has increased over the years.

Jen McCoy, a 2005 graduate of the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at UW-Madison recalls, “I paid $550 per month for a one-bedroom apartment during college and that was 16 years ago.” Based on the above index, the $550 per month apartment which she rented would now cost nearly $1,100 per month from the time of her graduation in May 2005.

Chris Gitter, on the other hand, a 2020 UW-Madison graduate, stated that his rent was about $650 per month including utilities, about $100 more than McCoy’s student apartment. However, he lived in a house near Camp Randall with four other roommates.

The increase in housing costs not only hurts Americans’ personal finances and opportunities, but also influences options regarding their living situations. More Americans, particularly students and recent graduates, have no choice but to live with several roommates, particularly in more expensive cities, in order to afford standard housing.

UW-Madison students and campus community members struggling with housing can find resources through the Tenant Resource Center, Dean of Students Crisis Loan Program and Homeless Services Consortium of Dane County.

Graphic by Madi Sherman

Ultimately, this rise in costs may be pushing some students even farther off campus.

Students like Aaron Martin, a junior, and Justin Moore, a senior, represent a growing segment of UW-Madison students inching into residential neighborhoods for cheaper and often better quality housing.

Both students pointed out that while they get higher-quality and higher-value housing in the neighborhoods extending past UW-Madison’s campus. However, Associate editor Samantha Henschel reported that they also experience barriers to involvement in campus life.

“Very few of the houses close to me are college students,” Martin said. “I think it’s all older couples or young families with children. We have to be more conscious of what we’re doing, like not having people over super late, not being loud… it’s [completely different] from living on campus.”

“I think the biggest drawback to living here is just the [lack of] college atmosphere,” he continued. “Nothing really goes on around here.”

Still, commuting to classes is often a good fit for many students. Moore never looked for an apartment near campus because he knew it wouldn’t suit his needs. The residential area that he lives in is closer to his classes in the engineering building and the UW Hospital, where his roommate, a pharmacology student, spends most of his time.

“We definitely get a different living experience being there,” said Moore. “I don’t think we ever interact with the families living around us, but we overall have to be more conscious of the fact that there are families and fewer college students living around us.”

Choose: Greek Life

A house is not a home without a [insert Greek letters here]. The UW-Madison student housing scene is peppered with run-down apartments, decade-old houses and historic dorm buildings. Yet, tucked away behind the bustling State Street businesses lies Langdon street, a neighborhood lined with picturesque mansions, a lakeside view and dozens of students involved in one overarching organization: Greek life.

The draws of Greek row are many: active social lives, career opportunities and networking. However, the costs of fraternity and sorority life may determine how motivated students are to pursue a spot in one of Langdon Steet’s many houses.

Campus news reporter Beth Shoop sat down with Vice President of Finances at Pi Beta Phi, Meredith Buenz, President of Pi Beta Phi, Audrey Koehler, and Alumni Relations Officer of Phi Kappa Sigma, Sullivan Bluhm to break down the costs of living in their chapter houses.

Photo by Katie Scheidt

Shoop: Would you be able to go through and break down the costs of living in a fraternity or sorority? Preferably listing and explaining the areas of costs pertaining to living in the house?

Buenz: The cost of room and board for the semester is $4,260. The price is specifically for my chapter, which is Pi Phi. The total includes everything housing-related starting with our rent for the rooms. It also pays our chef where we get around 10 meals a week plus grab-and-go snacks. The price also covers our house mom, cleaning people, maintenance people and part of it goes towards a fund for new construction projects. There are also additional dues on top of this price that are mandatory for all sorority members living in and outside of the house.

Bluhm: Yes, so number one, the priciest cost area is the rent. Usually, it’s between $800 to $1000 a month which adds up to around $9,000 to $10,000 a year. The second most expensive element are the dues which are required by all members, including those who are not living in the house.

Shoop: You mentioned dues as being an outside cost of living in the house, what do the dues cover? Are there any other expenses required by members?

Koehler: Our dues are considered all inclusive. To name a few events — formals, date parties and dinner after Monday chapter meetings — are all paid for with dues. There are some extra things that aren’t budgeted for within the dues such as big-little gifts, apparel and parent events, but usually if there are expenses, they are optional.

Buenz: There are approximately $400 of dues on top of the $4,260 for members living in the house. This means the dues [for live-in members] end up costing around $300 less than what they would be if you are not living in the house. Our dues are all-inclusive, but I will say we often do fundraising minimums. Last year we did a sweatshirt philanthropy where [members] could either sell or buy a sweatshirt.

Bluhm: The cost of dues usually ranges between $350 and $650 a semester. Our dues cover a lot of basic needs. Cleaning supplies flies out the door, so a lot of money must be spent on buying more. Usually, a portion of our dues goes to a portion of an event. For example, for a date party or a formal, your dues will cover dinner, but you have to cover a hotel room. So, there’s normally chipping in extra costs but oftentimes we try to help each other out so nobody is missing experiences. Honestly, if I totaled up the cost it would probably be around $800 to $1,000 a year, just based on extra experiences.

Photo by Betsy Osterberger

Finanacials aren’t the only costs associated with Greek life. For UW-Madison senior Maya Cherins, living in a sorority house during her sophomore year presented even greater challenges .

Cherins said that her experiences in the sorority house created a detrimental situation for her mental health, particularly because conversations among members were often centered around diet and eating disorder culture. Cherins told Features writer Nicole Herzog that she eventually decided to drop her sorority at the end of her sophomore year after being sent home due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I remember there were weeks leading up to [spring break] where people would talk about their spring break diets,” Cherins said. “And I wasn’t on a spring break diet, because that’s not who I am.”

“It was just really hard to be in that environment where everyone’s comparing themselves the entire time,” she added.

While social events created opportunities to form friendships among sorority and fraternity members, they also placed pressure on the students to drink. Cherins also pointed out that aside from the peer pressure, the environment of fraternity parties is one that has become associated with sexual assault and rape culture over the years on a national scale.

“I’ve known way too many people in Greek life and in college in general that have been survivors of sexual assault,” Cherins said. “All of which have been survivors of sexual assault to people in fraternities. And it’s just disgusting.”

Photo by Cameron Lane-Flehinger

Fraternities and sororities can often become caught in the crosshairs of situations that Greek life foster.

As of July 5, 2021, Alpha Epsilon Pi Fraternity, Chi Phi fraternity, Sigma Alpha Mu fraternity, Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity and Kappa Sigma fraternity have been terminated by the Committee on Student Organizations, with Theta Chi fraternity and Sigma Chi fraternity being disassociated from UW-Madison. Students are advised not to join or participate in any sponsored activity by disassociated groups.

Reasons for termination or suspension vary. Sigma Chi was suspended for violating alcohol probation, while Chi Phi was terminated for hazing practices.

Though not all houses that disappear fail due to student organization policy offenses or violations. What happens when a fraternity dies?

Cal Floyd opened up to Campus news reporter Jane McCauley about Psi Upsilon at UW-Madison, and its challenges this semester with finding incoming freshmen to rush at the beginning of the year. He also explained why the fraternity’s decision to rush online ultimately made this semester Psi Upsilon’s last.

“Once COVID [came] around, we really struggled with the online recruitment and a lot of the more active members decided that because of COVID, they didn’t want to participate anymore,” Floyd said. “So after two semesters of really getting no one, we gave one last push this semester, and we just didn’t get enough people for it to make sense to keep going. We’re at a point where unfortunately, we have to shut down the chapter.”

Floyd explained that while there’s a lot of bad that’s associated with the Greek community, there is no better way on a college campus “to sit down with 1,500 men and speak frankly about sexual violence in our community. “As the vice president of member education for the Interfraternity Council, Floyd believes that Greek life has a greater ability to get people together to listen and talk about issues that impact them.

“It was a long process of sort of accepting that this was the end just because I had gotten so much out of it,” he continued. “That was tough, but at the end of the day, I’m living with five of my best friends, and so I’m grateful that I’ve gotten that out of it and the connections that I made because of this. So it’s really been special.”

“It’s just hard to sort of say goodbye.”