Editorial: ASU’s elephant graveyard

However you refer to the stretch of payment that connects East 6th Street with University Drive — Frat Row, Alpha Drive or that boarded up, post-apocalyptic dysbropia— you will now be doing so only in the past tense.

The last fraternity residing on Alpha Drive, the ASU Sigma Nu chapter, received a letter from its national organization ordering the fraternity to vacate its house by March 18. The University gained ownership of the premises on March 15.

Whatever memories you hold of Alpha Drive — a thoroughfare for intoxicated wobbling after a night out during your freshman year, part of the pathway to the Wells Fargo arena or Sun Devil stadium for a sporting event or perhaps it was your first home away from home — memories are all they shall remain.

Despite recent appearances of boarded-up, condemned structures once used to house students, ASU’s very own elephant graveyard, the shells of houses on Alpha Drive is not the architecture of ASU’s New American University. Alpha Drive has, however, been a longstanding part of ASU's history and now the wheels of discussion are put in motion. Was this an issue of safety or simply University aesthetics? What does this mean for Greek Life and the culture that took up residence in this little pocket of Tempe? And perhaps most importantly, what will be built in its place?

Greek Life will go on. Most fraternities that previously had homes on Alpha Drive have since relocated to other parts of Tempe by renting out entire floors and sections of area apartment complexes or houses close together in neighborhoods near campus.  The members of Sigma Nu have even received monetary support from the University to be used toward rent elsewhere or offers to live in University housing for the remainder of the semester.

To say this was an issue of safety wouldn’t be far off. Condemned housing structures are havens for squatters, homeless people or youngsters in search of some trouble or adventure (but usually find only a rusty nail stuck in their shoe). And it’s not as if the fraternities kept these houses in the best of shape while they lived there. Alpha Drive has been in a constant yet almost ironic decline for several years. It has also seen its fair share of underage or binge drinking, a practice that was previously a responsibility of ASU Police to monitor.

And now, for the future: What does the University have planned for the space? Could it hold a living learning community, new dorms, a campus green space or perhaps more parking and University facilities?  Only time will tell. Until then, you’ll just have to “frat hard” somewhere else.


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