Auburn’s National Pan-Hellenic Council President Madison Riggins believes the recently approved NPHC Legacy Plaza will affect recruitment, representation and retention of black students at Auburn.
With approval from the Board of Trustees, the plaza will be the first architectural indication of NPHC’s presence on campus. Planned to be located adjacent to the campus greenspace, the legacy plaza will be a place for programming and commemoration of the nine historically black Greek-letter sororities and fraternities, commonly referred to as the “Divine Nine.”
Currently, five of the fraternities and sororities are active on Auburn’s campus.
The plaza will include panels dedicated to each of the nine sororities and fraternities, and a 10th will be dedicated to telling the history of the black-student experience at Auburn. Riggins said the 10th panel is important because not every black student is a part of a Greek organization.
“If students feel like they have a safe place on campus, I think that’ll give them the opportunity to say, ‘Okay, even if school gets hard at times, I feel like I have a place where I can come and get supported at all times,’” Riggins said.
Auburn will become the second among the 14 SEC schools with a plaza of its kind, joining Ole Miss, and it will be the second in the state along with the University of North Alabama.
Riggins said the plaza should help with the recruitment of more minority students, which has recently become a goal of administrators. Auburn’s black enrollment has gradually declined over the past decade, and fewer than 200 black students were a part of Auburn’s most recent freshmen class, which exceeded 5,000.
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“We want to make sure this is a place that can be utilized for minority recruitment, as well,” Riggins said. “A lot of times, when students come here, they don’t see people who look like them in tours.”
The cost of the plaza will be in the neighborhood of $250,000. Some of the costs will be shouldered under the construction costs for the multi-million dollar Academic Classroom and Laboratory Complex.
NPHC set an original goal of contributing $10,000 itself, but it raised nearly $8,000 at the Tiger Stomp Show during Auburn’s Black Alumni Weekend on Sept. 27, so Riggins is considering raising NPHC’s contribution goal to $15,000.
“We want to make sure this is a project that we feel like is a part of us, not just something people gave to us,” Riggins said.
Auburn’s Interfraternity Council and Panhellenic Council have agreed to contribute to the fundraising as well. Riggins said Aramark, Auburn’s campus dining partner, also agreed to contribute, and NPHC is looking for additional corporate sponsors.
However, Riggins said there is no set deadline on when the money needs to be raised because construction of the plaza won’t be able to begin until the ACLC is built. Right now, a joint bank account is set up for all contributing parties to accumulate as much of the $250,000 as early on as possible.
The ACLC is scheduled to be finished by fall 2021, so the NPHC Legacy Plaza should be completed by 2022, according to Riggins.
Riggins is excited about the construction of the plaza, but there is still a lot to be done, and it’s not going to happen overnight, she said.
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