For the first time in Duke's long history, sororities have their own houses, located on Central Campus. Before moving to Central, sororities did not have a designated living or gathering space to call their own. As part of the new house system implemented this year, each sorority on Central now has a designated common room. For Chi Omega and others, it's a great benefit to their community.
"We've been using the common room for sisterhood activities and cabinet meetings," said DeDe Mann, T'13, chapter president for the Chi Omega sorority at Duke. "We've had movie nights, we had a Welcome Home barbecue to welcome everyone to the space and the idea of having a house and a common space. It was lovely."
But the best result of the common room living space may be the spontaneity that helps cultivate new and existing relationships among the sisters, Mann said.
"On any given night you can come in and find 5-10 of my members studying or hanging out, because now we have this space where you know there will be another sister, someone to catch up with and talk to."
In the previous system, sororities did not house together, requiring sisters to be more deliberate in their gatherings, Mann said. The proximity of living space and the common room have been a wonderful addition to sorority life.
"It's been convenient having a substantial portion of the community live so close," Mann said.
It is early in the year, and early on for the new house system, but community is developing both within and beyond the walls of each house.
"My RA here on Central has already started trying to bring together the different houses, selective living groups, sororities that she has under her supervision," Mann said. "She's been wonderful, very supportive, and working to learn about the sorority to better understand us." Mann added that the sororities are already considering a "tour of common rooms" as a way of building community among the sororities on Central.
For now, Chi Omega is focused on giving their common room "it's own character," said Mann. "When we first moved all the furniture in it looked really perfect, like something out of a catalog. And now it's starting to get character and look lived in. That means the girls are using it," she said, "and that is thrilling."