Sorority/Fraternity Facilities: Does Type Make a Difference in the Member Experience?
Type of DegreePhD Dissertation
Education Foundation, Leadership, and Technology
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The physical environment on a college campus plays an important role in enhancing student learning and positive well-being (Garcia, 2017; Strange & Banning, 2015) and can influence a student’s sense of community and campus involvement (Rullman & van den Kieboom, 2012; Wessel & Salisbury, 2017). While sorority/fraternity facilities can contribute to the student experience, the cost of these spaces may influence a student’s decision to join (McClure & Ryder, 2018). The lack of research on the value of sorority/fraternity facilities (Biddix, Matney, Norman, and Martin, 2014) was an impetus for this study. The purpose of this quantitative study was to determine if sorority/fraternity member experiences differed across facility types. Strayhorn’s (2012, 2019) research on sense of belonging and Bronfenbrenner’s (1986; 1993) ecology of human development theory served as the theoretical foundation for this research. The study evaluated participant responses on the 2017-2018 Fraternity and Sorority Experience Survey (FSES) by comparing outcomes established as appropriate for student learning in the higher education environment (Council for the Advancement of Standards in Higher Education [CAS], 2015). Four factors emerged as themes of the sorority/fraternity outcomes examined in this sample: fraternal values, active intervention, intervention perceptions, and cultural appreciation. The results revealed that sorority/fraternity members with chapter mega facilities actively intervened in problematic situations more often than those with moderate, meeting-only, and no facility. However, those with no facility reported higher ratings on their chapter’s impact on cultural appreciation and fraternal values than those in any of the other facility types. There were small but significant differences in intervention perceptions across facility types. Students with moderate, meeting-only and no chapter facility placed a higher value on intervention than students in chapters with mega facilities. Results on council differences indicated IFC and Panhellenic members actively intervened in problematic situations more frequently than members of MGC and NPHC. However, students in NPHC and IFC had higher intervention perception ratings than those in other councils. As expected, members of NPHC and MGC chapters demonstrated a higher sense of cultural appreciation than their IFC and Panhellenic peers. Limitations of the study and recommendations for further research were discussed.