Our Path to Becoming a STEP-Approved Fraternity
After undergoing the recent renovation to the Beta chapter house, AGR is now one of seven approved fraternities (thus far) for sophomore housing through Ohio State’s new Second-year Transformational Experience Program, also known as STEP, which will go into effect next school year. This program aims to redefine the student experience by enhancing student success, improving student engagement and satisfaction, and contributing to post-graduation prosperity, according to the STEP website.
For those that aren’t familiar with the STEP program, here’s a brief overview:
- First-year students were automatically enrolled in the STEP program when they went through the housing re-selection process for the 2016-2017 academic year.
- STEP students are required to live in either the residence halls, an approved Greek living facility, or with a parent or close guardian for the entirety of their sophomore year.
- STEP students must have a GPA of 2.0 or higher and be in good standing with the university.
- Aside from the living requirements, STEP students must also meet other academic requirements, including meeting with STEP faculty members, submitting reflection papers on certain professional development topics and participating in a financial literacy program, among others.
- If all of the requirements are met, STEP students will be eligible to receive a fellowship of up to $2,000 to put toward a project of their choosing.
As the University began preparations to implement the STEP program a couple of years ago, so did AGR Beta. The $1.8 million renovation project was driven in large part by the goal of becoming a STEP-approved living facility by the 2016-17 school year so that sophomores can become and/or remain active members and live in the chapter house with their brothers, while also participating in the STEP program.
“Being one of the first fraternities involved in the STEP program has always been a priority for us,” said Nathan Louiso, president of the AGR Beta Chapter House Corporation Board. “Not only because sophomores will now be able to continue to live in the house, but more importantly because of the beneficial STEP programing component.”
Before beginning the renovation project to 1979 Iuka Ave., the requirements of becoming a STEP-approved facility were reviewed and incorporated into the plans. Examples of the STEP requirements and Greek Housing Standard qualifications met because of the renovation project include:
- A common study space.
- At least one desk in each bedroom.
- A designated space for one-on-one meetings for students and their STEP faculty advisor.
- Information technology resources to support students’ academic experience.
- A live-in advisor or equivalent position.
- An approved key control policy.
- Reasonably lit paths and doors to the house.
- A hard-wired smoke detection system, copies of licensure and inspection results, and a valid annual rooming house license from the City of Columbus.
Each year, AGR Beta will participate in an annual facility audit to make sure the house remains in compliance with the Greek Housing Standard.
Currently, 28 members live in the AGR chapter house with 41 committed for fall semester and there is a capacity to hold 55 members.
“Next year, more members will be able to live in the house and they will now have the opportunity to participate in an experience that encourages more campus involvement,” said Louiso. “This will help foster stronger relationships with other students and faculty on campus.”
All in all, the STEP program is something that the men of AGR – both undergrads and alumni – are welcoming as the fraternity enters its 112nd year on Ohio State’s campus and continues to pave the way for young men pursuing careers in food and agriculture.
“Similar to Alpha Gamma Rho, the STEP program will help provide a more rounded student experience,” said Louiso. “The purpose of Alpha Gamma Rho is ‘To Make Better Men.’”
“STEP will now be an important tool in this role.”
To learn more about the STEP program, visit www.step.osu.edu.