UNK holds ribbon cutting for newly renovated Martin Hall

Local4 News at 6
Published: Feb. 8, 2023 at 10:37 PM CST
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KEARNEY, Neb. (KSNB) - The University of Nebraska at Kearney gave us an inside look at one of its major renovation projects Wednesday.

Martin Hall was once home to Greek Life back in the 1990s before they moved across campus. Now, it will serve a new generation of the school’s eight chapters. Officials said the goal of the project is to bring all of Greek Life together.

“Our fraternities and sororities on this campus are the campus leaders,” said Kelly Bartling, Vice Chancellor of Enrollment Management and Marketing. “It’s important for them to have space where they’re next to each other and able to collaborate.”

Bartling said the Great Hall inside of Martin Hall will be used for collaborative projects between fraternities, which she said all parties are very excited about. With everyone being under one roof, students are already enjoying how close they are to each other.

“It’ll just bring a lot more sense of friendliness, instead of just reaching out, and it’s not somebody that you really don’t know,” said Darwin Lainez, member of Pi Kappa Alpha. “It’s probably that you know and y’all can just make it better and just have that sense of friendliness and closeness.”

One student shared his experience on how living with other fraternities helped him connect with those outside of his own.

“Just last week I was doing laundry and then two guys from another fraternity came in, and we talked in there for 30 minutes,” said Jack Aschwege, a member of Phi Kappa Alpha. “Just talking about what it’s like in their living space and what it’s like in mine, and the difference and the similarities. So it’s really easy to make that connection, then all of sudden, it’s ready to do laundry again.”

Aschwege said there isn’t much difference between each fraternity’s living space, and they all have enjoyed living with each other in the new-look hall. Greek Life is a part of almost every college and university, and UNK officials said it is critical to enrollment.

“It’s a great location,” said Bartling. “It’s a wonderful space. Growing enrollment is something that the university is really dedicated to. We’re working really hard to increase enrollment. Having a strong fraternity and sorority life is the key to doing that.”

Greek Life students say they are pleased to see how much the university values their presence.

“It means a lot because it shows how much they care about Greek Life as a whole, and not just looking at us as normal students,” said Aschwege. “It shows that we weren’t in the best situation and they would notice that, so they did their best to fix that situation, and it made us feel more comfortable and get more involved on campus.”

Aschwege said Martin Hall has been a great experience so far and he’s looking forward to the rest of the semester. UNK officials also shared the impact fraternities have on enrollment.

“When we talk to families about what kind of experience they want at a college or university, they want to belong,” said Bartling. “They want to have people that they can work on projects together, who can build their network.”

Bartling said fraternity and sorority life provide network connections for students that help them after they graduate.