Former fraternity now houses select first-years

The beginning of the school year brings a loss and an addition to the fraternity quad this fall. Last semester, the fraternity Kappa Sigma was the object of a University investigation after allegations of pledge hazing were reported in The Tartan. Since then, the house has been removed from campus. The former fraternity house has since undergone a dramatic transition, becoming Forbes House: a residence hall for 32 first-years.

The occupants of Forbes House have access to all the amenities that a former fraternity house has to offer, including a television room with stadium seating, an air-conditioned first floor, a full kitchen, laundry room, two living rooms and what residents say they use as a ?coffee bar.? The rooms are spacious; one resident?s dorm has a lofted second room to it.

The location, in the midst of the fraternity quad and right across the street from both dorms and academic buildings is also appealing, according to three residents with whom The Tartan spoke: Eva Lin, Roberta Burke, and Carolyn Carante (?but you can call me C.C. Everyone calls me C.C.?).

The Forbes House is intended to foster a close, intimate group environment for first-years, while organizing community service events and leadership workshops for the students. The residents? closeness and unity is plain to see.

?Sometime this year we?re going to have a slumber party,? said Burke. ?People like to sleep downstairs because there?s air conditioning.? As proof, the girls pointed out the blanket of one of the male residents sitting on ?his? chair in the lounge.
?We wanna call [Forbes House] Schatz House, after the dining hall,? added Lin. ?We love it. We go there all the time and eat dinner together.?

This past weekend, the residents went on a shopping trip to the mall. Last weekend, they visited the Ronald McDonald House, lending a hand organizing the pantries and the children?s play areas. But perhaps the most striking aspect of the house is the diversity within it.

?Everybody is so different, there?s no two of us that [are] the same.? said Carante. ?I think we calculated once that we have seventeen different languages in this house and thirteen ethnicities.?

This is not the first time the University has offered a Forbes House for first-years. The two previous occasions were in 2001, in the present Phi Kappa Theta house, and in 1999, in what is now the Sigma Phi Epsilon house. Forbes House RA Mark Roboff was a resident in the Phi Kap Forbes House in ?01.

?My freshman year here was one of the best years of my life,? said Roboff. When I heard that there was going to be [a Forbes House] this year, I jumped at the opportunity. I just had to be involved this year.?

According to Roboff, part of the reason for the rapport between the residents of Forbes House is the application process. Interested first-years applied for residence at the house on the basis of extracurricular activities and personal essays.

?The students here are mostly self-selected, throughout University process. It?s a special interest house [in that] it?s for leadership and community service. So, many of the people who live here were very active in their high schools; they?re very outgoing, social people who are looking to become active in college,? said Roboff. ?We bonded very quickly.?

With three Forbes Houses in six years, the question arises as to whether the program will become permanent in the University. The housefellow of Forbes House, Ren?e Camerlengo, was unavailable for comment. However, Roboff, who was president of the Student Dormitory Council last year, said that there is a desire to make Forbes House permanent, citing Roselawn Apartments as a potential site.

For the time being, the residents of Forbes house will participate in Carnegie Mellon?s Emerging Leaders program, followed by a community service program in the spring. According to Roboff, it is these shared events that unite the residents and ultimately makes Forbes House a success.

?Everyone who lives here does their part in creating the Forbes House community,? he said. ?It?s really built from the ground up.?