New Greek Plaza to brighten Juda Hall’s backyard

By Ellis Cross

September 17, 2012

Greek life at Missouri Western will soon be enhanced even more with an outdoor plaza behind Juda Hall. The new circular plaza will be used by Greek organizations for ceremonies and as a recruiting tool. Greeks have never had a place to call their own on campus until now, with the new Greek Village and Greek Plaza giving them that space. The placement of the plaza next to the Greek Village and close to Downs Drive was no accident. “The location of the plaza was Dean of Enrollment Management Howard McCauley’s suggestion,” Director of Residential Life Mark Stier said. “When you visit other campuses, you see the presence of Greek life and we didn’t have that.” Stier credits the initial vision for the plaza to Western’s President, Dr. Robert Vartabedian, and the Greek organizations themselves. “The leaders in Student Affairs and the Greek themselves really deserve the credit for the work on the Greek Village,” Vartabedian said. “I have just encouraged them to promote an expansion of Greek Life on our campus.” He also noted that the plaza could help students to better “connect” with each other and with university life in general. “We are focusing on increasing opportunities for students to be engaged on campus and to feel part of the campus,” Interim Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students Judy Grimes said. “We want to encourage more students to live on campus and have increased many late-night events for them.” The Greek Village and Greek Plaza are parts of the response to the consultant’s report that was completed a few years ago Grimes said. She also pointed out that the report is still on the student affairs website. Ten Greek organizations will be represented with one of 15 benches with the name of the organization and the Western emblem. These benches will be placed in a large outer circle with three benches in the inner circle. In the center of the circle will be a rock that is to be painted and maintained by each group with their colors, name and handprints at different times of the school year. This project was financed with monies left over from the Residential Hall Association’s budget. “Their sole purpose is the enhancement of residential life for the betterment of the community,” Stier said. “Because the Greek village is a part of residential life a portion of the project came from them, the other portion came from Dr. Grimes and student government.” Stier also credits a great deal of the planning success to the SGA as they assisted him in getting all of the Greek organizations together for several meetings to get their input for the design of the plaza. Usually freshmen at Western are not allowed in Juda. Stier is making an exception to the rule for those who pledge Greek. There are still spaces available in the original west wing of the Greek Village in Juda. There are nine units available and they could be doubled up if necessary. With 70 new men showing interest in pledging Greek and the women’s side still pledging, those spaces could go fast. At most Juda could hold 120 Greeks if the entire building was used for Greek housing.