Widgets Magazine

OPINIONS

Op-Ed: No news for Chi Theta Chi NOT okay

The decision to bring Chi Theta Chi under University jurisdiction matters a lot to us residents – the underpinning of our culture, the elemental independence that obligates true responsibility to the house and to each other, has been denied. To what extent and for how long?

No, I’m really asking.

76. The number of days since Stanford University administrators informed the Alumni Board of Chi Theta Chi that our lease would not be renewed for the upcoming year.

72. The number of days since any official contact has been made between these administrators and the current residents of the house.

Clearly, the future of our home – our ability to operate our house as adults versus the degree to which we will be swaddled in bureaucratic splints – is enormously important to us. So why haven’t we heard any news?

Chi Theta Chi’s Alumni Board has been negotiating with the University since early February. This has entailed closed-door meetings with lawyers present. A single resident, one of our two house managers, was permitted to attend initial meetings (and has taken on myriad responsibilities besides). She’s dog-tired from dealing with this, and we’re all tired of waiting for answers.

It’s evident that the Board is working tremendously hard to reach a resolution as soon as possible. We residents have seen projects directed by the Board and house managers unfold around us. Some of these developments we’re quite happy to carry out. Others are to comply with the University’s modus operandi, one that tends to exceed code stipulations and extend into purely aesthetic preference. We also know the managers had to fight to preserve, in the upcoming year, the 11 staff positions that we value and that have been historically respected.

Furthermore, we’ve seen heightened University presence in our home. Despite official assurance that the takeover would not have an impact on our day-to-day “co-op experience,” it has thus far proved taxing and intrusive. A crowd of University officials conducted a full house walk-through during finals week of winter quarter. In the first week back after break, that same crowd inspected each and every one of our personal rooms. Don’t forget, Stanford owns the land, but our rooms are part of the physical house that is property of the Alumni Board.

Despite everything we see in progress, we have yet to hear our prospects. Time isn’t on our side, and we fear the University knows this all too well. We were notified of the University’s decision to cancel our lease during winter quarter midterms with zero warning. Now they’ve pushed back an important meeting, and further delayed while their lawyer is on vacation. The entire process has been postponed by nearly a month, without explanation. This leaves our present community with only weeks to secure the lease, while its members face the tumult of exams, theses deadlines, and graduation.

What will happen if the University continues to simultaneously stall and encroach? The few sophomores in the house, like myself, plan on fighting through until the end. But where will we be when no one’s left who knew Chi Theta Chi in all its self-governed glory? The lack of communication with residents about any sort of timeline or plan is quite simply unacceptable.

“Life safety” is the only remaining reported problem the administration has with our home. However, this term remains to be defined in any goal-oriented way, considering that we’ve passed our most recent county fire and kitchen inspections, and completed other pro-active improvements. If our health were truly in the interest of the University, they would not leave us in such oblivion.

We residents and our Alumni Board will do whatever we can to preserve our home. We have our hearts in this; the administration should, too. The ultimate decision-makers are the Vice Provosts of Student Affairs and Residential & Dining Enterprises. Their titles demand a level of responsibility to and respect for students that we have yet to observe.

This process is financially wasteful and emotionally damaging. Were it more transparent, we might be less anxious. But while we linger in the dark, I, along with my fellow residents, can see no reason why the University should continue to drag its heels in coming to a resolution.

Laura McMartin ’14

 

Chi Theta Chi resident

  • Harrison Wray

    The University’s initial claims for concern about the Chi Theta Chi co-op – the house management’s supposed unresponsiveness to University requests, and lack of concern for residents’ “life safety” – have ironically been most reflected in the University’s own conduct throughout this misguided process.  They have demonstrated complete unwillingness to cooperate with residents or management, who have done everything they can to fulfill the University’s often-arbitrary housing standards (many of which remain unenforced in other campus residences that are already University-owned).  Their lack of communication and encroaching presence within the house itself hardly indicates a concern for student well-being, but rather has brought a cloud of undue stress and uncertainty into every resident’s life.  The University is not only sending the implicit message that they can seize and manipulate campus communities at will, they are doing so under the patronizing and paper-thin guise of “concern for student safety.”  These “concerns” are arbitrary and unshared by any single resident of the house.  I suggest that the University take the Stanford student community’s response as a hint, and back down from this attempted maneuver before it becomes an even bigger public- and student-relations mess.