Tiger Village residents: ‘We Are Family’

Tiger Village Dedication

By Diane Gasper-O’Brien
University Relations and Marketing
HAYS, Kan. – The common theme among the speakers at Saturday’s dedication of one of Fort Hays State University’s newest residence halls was “family.”

FHSU students, administrators and alumni all mentioned the feeling of family during the dedication of Tiger Village, a 31,000-square-foot, three-story building north of Lewis Field Stadium, at the corner of Elm Street and Lewis Drive.

Tiger Village, a 96-bed residence hall, is home to the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity, two sororities – Delta Zeta and Sigma Sigma Sigma – and students in the Second-Year Experience Learning Community.

Saturday’s event on Homecoming weekend 2017 marked the fourth of similar dedications on the FHSU campus since August as Fort Hays State continues to improve and expand its campus. Also dedicated on campus this fall were a new track and field facility; Victor E. Village, a 406-bed residence hall; and the Center for Applied Technology.

“This is a special time on this campus,” said Dr. Andy Tompkins, interim president of FHSU. “This is a culmination of quite a fall here at Fort Hays State,” he said. “At the dedication of Victor E. Village, I noted that it represented a new era in living and learning at Fort Hay State University. This is also true of Tiger Village.”

Dr. Joey Linn, FHSU vice president for student affairs, agreed.

“Today is yet another historical moment in the life of Fort Hays State University,” Linn told the crowd of fraternity and sorority alumni and others attending the dedication ceremony.

“Tiger Village adds an incredible building to the landscape of this beautiful campus as it provides a first-class home for two sororities, one fraternity and a second-year experience program,” Linn said. “All of us at FHSU are proud of this addition and are excited to offer our students a new on-campus option for their living and learning environment.”

Tiger Village is designed on a townhouse model, with each of the four houses featuring separate entrances as well as private bathrooms and its own family room, kitchen and stairway. A central area open to all residents houses two large meeting rooms as well as a shared elevator and laundry area.

Funding for Tiger Village came from several university categories, including residential life, with the bulk of it coming from a bond sale. Greek alumni also pitched in to help with additional fees to upgrade interior finishes.

Several parts of the facility are named in honor of donors, and a variety of naming opportunities throughout the building are still available.

“I want to thank the fraternity and sorority alumni who are joining us today and those who have played a role in helping with this project and making it a reality to these fraternities and sororities,” Tompkins said. “Having been a member of a fraternity when I was in college, I know the benefits that participation in these can mean to the students while in college and throughout their lives. Just as our attachment to our university remains strong after graduation, so do our feelings for organizations such as these.”

“Isn’t this amazing?” asked Steve Shields from Manhattan, a Sigma Phi Epsilon alum and co-chair of the FHSU Journey Campaign, as he stood in front of the building. “I’m blessed to be a Sig Ep, seeing my brothers this weekend. This brings it all full circle why we’re here. A large part of going out into the world is to experience a sense of belonging and how you learn from each other.”

Although living in Tiger Village for less than two months, students already speak highly of their new home. They are obviously happy with the new facilities, but students’ comments Saturday centered more on feelings.

“This isn’t just some wing in a dorm. It’s a home, a family,” said Preston Pittman, a sophomore from Liberal who lives in the learning community portion of the building. “My life and other people’s lives have been changed for the better because of other people who have chosen to live here.”

Raenee Patterson of the Delta Zeta sorority agreed.

“In these two short months, we have made so many new memories in our house,” said Patterson, a sophomore from Norton. “In such a short time, we have managed to make this house our home.”

Patterson said that while it was hard to leave their house in the community on Sixth Street, “we have welcomed this change with open arms and hearts.” She quoted a phrase she came across recently, “Home is a place where your feet may leave, but your heart never will.”

“Tiger Village is our new home,” Patterson said, “and when we look back on our college days years from now, we are going to remember all the memories we made here and all the traditions we were allowed to start.”

“This state-of-the-art residence hall provides a unique opportunity for fraternities and sororities and a sophomore learning community to utilize university space while enjoying the benefits of a separate home for each,” Tompkins said. “We are blessed to have a good Greek system at FHSU, both on and off campus, and I am excited by this new concept and the potential it offers to help our Greek system remain strong and active in the life of the university.”

Reilly Franek, representing the Sigma Sigma Sigma sorority, said that Tiger Village “has grown our sisterhood in indescribable ways.”

“Greek life is about more than (Greek) letters and wearing formals and T-shirts,” said Franek, a junior from Elbert, Colo. “It is about finding a family, standing for something greater than yourself and most importantly, finding a home away from home. We Tri Sigs are, without a doubt, better off here in our home on campus.”

Denver sophomore Dane Murzyn of Sigma Phi Epsilon summed up the feelings of the residents, saying “this is a special moment for each of us.”

“I think I speak for all of us (Sig Eps) that this house has helped us to become better people. Not only made us grateful but live our virtues to a greater extent,” Murzyn said. “There is a difference from just being in a fraternity than living with that group of men. This house has helped us become better men. Home is a place where past and present meet to build a future. This is our future.”

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