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New fraternity is more than an animal house

Posted October 2nd, 2011 by Mike

[KVAL] CORVALLIS, Ore. — After two years without a home to call their own, Phi Kapp Psi held the grand opening of the first new house on Greek row at Oregon State University since 1960.

After the breaking of the bottle and the cutting of the ribbon, fraternity board member Jerry Nelson said the house is more than just brick and mortar.

“It’s not just buildings, tables and chairs, but also the spirit of the quality of life America needs,” he said to parents, fraternity alumni and other board members.

Fraternity president Ryan Ruark said, “It’s our mission to use this new house to help rebuilt the reputation of the fraternity system here at Oregon State. We want the outside community to know this building stands for the value of our organization.”

The new building replaced the original one that was destroyed by a freak boiler explosion in 2008.

Thanks to former president Chris Gerritz, who evacuated the brothers prior to the explosion after smelling gas, no one was injured.

“The boiler came all the way through the floor, and the house litterally jumped 12 inches off the foundation. If anyone was there during the explosion they would have been killed,” said Architect Craig Stockbridge, who assessed the damage three days later.

Fraternity president Ryan Ruark said not having a house for the brothers for so long actually helped them grow stronger as a unit.

“We really had to figure out how to function without walls, and I believe that in the end it was good for us,” he said after giving a speech on the front lawn of the new house.

“But I’m still glad to have a room of my own,” he added.

The new structure has been completely rebuilt from the ground up with upgraded dorm rooms from the original porch-style living quarters, private showers and a brand new kitchen with an enlarged dining room.

Nelson said the nearly $3 million rebuild was one of 14 other national Phi Kapp Psi projects that have been on the agenda for quite some time.

“The brothers needed a safter place to gather for the 21st century,” said Nelson of the new house in Corvallis.

The fraternity plans to pay for the new house through donations and dues from new members.

“They now have debt,” said Stockbridge, “But I think they’d agree it’s worth it.”

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