Learning community renovates fraternity house for fall


Photo: Karuna Ang/Iowa State Daily

Caytlin Hentzel, sophomore in event management, and Stephanie Curtis, sophomore in hotel, restaurant, and institution management, talk to Cassandra Hinz, junior in biology at the Barista Cafe located in Buchanan Hall.

Alayna Flor

The greek community will have some new neighbors in a familiar house next year. The Delta Upsilon house will be home to the Entrepreneurship and Innovative Learning Community in fall 2011.

“[Our] learning community is working on and moving into the [Delta Upsilon] house,” said Stephanie Curtis, sophomore in hotel, restaurant and institution management and member of the Entrepreneurship and Innovative Learning Community. “We are there to help students make great connections with those in the industry of our field.”

The cafe the Entrepreneurship and Innovative Learning Community currently operates in Buchanan Hall is run and owned by students. Members plan to apply what they learned when they got the Barista Cafe to open a similar establishment in its future home on Ash Avenue.

“We have a number of things that we need to make this work,” Curtis said. “Including how we will arrange the house for how the students will be living, how we will run the Barista Cafe out of the house and getting more students to join our learning community and help run the cafe.”

In preparation for the change, the students have been working with Jami Larson, Delta Upsilon alumnus, adviser of the learning community and Ames City Council member.

“The idea started with Jami,” Curtis said. “He has been working with us and is really excited to watch our learning community and the Barista Cafe grow.”

Plans for the Delta Upsilon house transformation and new Barista Cafe opening depend upon the completion of summer renovations. The house is currently occupied by Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity while its house is under construction.

Decisions about the renovations are made by students and advisers of the Entrepreneurship and Innovative Learning Community alike.

“We have been working with members and alumni to fire off ideas about what room layouts and floor arrangement we would prefer the most,” said Edward Shields, junior in biology and peer mentor for the Entrepreneurship and Innovative Learning Community. “We have had to take into account trade-offs for the different arrangements. For example, setting up multiple single suites or double suites would have the trade off of using more available space.”

In addition to living situations, the learning community also has to plan  how the cafe will run within the house.

“One of the major problems that I have known that we are facing are how we will be running the kitchen,” Curtis said. “Are we going to run the Barista Cafe out of the same kitchen that students in the house will be using? How will we be splitting up seating space with students in the house and the Barista customers? So we are trying to decide what is the best way to structure the kitchen and eating area.”

This project will not come for free. The students of the Entrepreneurship and Innovative Learning Community are depending on alumni of Delta Upsilon to help fund the project, as well as collaborating to find areas of the house that need improvement.

While planning the move and renovations for the Delta Upsilon house, the learning community maintains its cafe in Buchanan Hall and participates in additional learning opportunities.

“We go learn about local companies, their owners and how they started,” Curtis said. “A lot of what we do is great experience. A few of us run the Barista Cafe, and attend the [Collegiate Entrepreneur Organization] conference.”

Right now, awareness of the community’s efforts are key for success, Curtis and Shields said.

“We are really trying to get people to know about the Barista Cafe, and know about our learning community and how it will be the first coed [group living in a fraternity house] on campus,” Curtis said.

“We imagine that if the move is successful that we will be able to reach out and inspire others to join the learning community,” Shields said.