The South Dakota Board of Regents appears ready to swing the eminent domain stick on SDSU's Alpha Xi Delta sorority. Vicki Schuster at the Brookings Register reports that SDSU wants to bulldoze the Alpha Xi Delta house on the south side of campus to build Phase II of the Electrical Engineering and Computer Science complex. The project has already replaced a lot of trees and old houses with brick and pavement. The Legislature this year authorized the Regents to offer the sorority $275K for the property. The sorority has thus far said no thanks... and if I were them, I would, too.
During my undergrad days, I had the pleasure of living three blocks west of Alpha Xi Delta, right at 8th and Medary, where the SDSU Foundation building now stands. I loved it. I lived within a two minute bike-sprint from class. I never had to drive to the Union or the library, even on the coldest night. If I owned the choice Alpha Xi Delta property in a tight housing market like Brookings, I would expect a much better deal from the Regents to give it up. Alpha Xi Delta won't find a location as good for its replacement, and I suspect they won't be able to build a house of comparable size for $275K.
The value isn't just the building and location. The Regents are also taking away a prime recruitment tool for the sorority. Banish the sorority to scattered on-campus housing for a year or more while ΑΞΔ builds a new house, and the organization loses a year of easy recruitment, weakening the group for more than a couple years.
I'm no fan of the Greek system, but they're entitled to protect their organization's interests and demand a fair market price for their property like everyone else. Eminent domain is acceptable for cases of absolute public necessity. I haven't heard the case yet for the absolute necessity of another new classroom/lab building on the south edge of campus.
I haven't gotten the minutes from this week's Regental meeting yet, so I don't know for sure that they passed their condemnation resolution. Let's hope they don't ned to use it and can instead make a deal that satisfies all parties.
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