Widgets Magazine


Op-Ed: Chi Theta Chi – Father to daughter

Growing up, I’d listen to my father’s stories about Stanford while we worked in the yard together, the tape deck playing blues music. My dad, Hardoncourt “Trip” Trepagnier (Statistics ’77), followed his older brother to Stanford, leaving Delaware for palm trees and sunshine. When he changed majors, he took advantage of Stanford’s generous leave of absence policy.  He stopped out to work as a mechanic and ski bum for a year.

When my dad returned in 1975, Chi Theta Chi was one of the few dorms open during summer quarter. He completed a few essential course credits, and graduated without taking additional quarters. My dad would often remind me about his introduction to blues music – by playing pool with his friends at Chi Theta Chi, in a room overlooking Campus Drive and Hoover Tower.

I drew into Chi Theta Chi my sophomore year and lucked into the best double on campus – the Pool Room. When I called my dad up to tell him, we realized that this was the same room where he discovered his love for blues. The view of Hoover Tower is now blocked by Munger Residences, and the pool table is downstairs, but in that room I could feel the presence of Chi Theta Chi past.

After my sophomore and junior years I worked for Stanford’s Conference Services. More than 200 camps and conferences are held at Stanford, with over 18,000 youths visiting through academic and athletic camps. It’s easy for students to feel like strangers on campus, lost in a crowd of middle and high school-age campers.

I recognize the importance of these conferences – the camps create jobs and help offset student room and board fees.  However, there are few housing options for students staying the summer at Stanford.  Students are either locked into an expensive dining plan at a residence hall, or they live in Mirrielees apartments. I spent my junior year at Mirrielees after returning from Oxford, and while it offers independence, there is no community. I never met my neighbors, or even my Residential Assistant.

Chi Theta Chi is the only co-op open during the summer. As a Conference Services employee I earned a free room, and I could access a kitchenette near my dorm. But I didn’t want to buy a full set of kitchen equipment, and I didn’t have a car to drive to the grocery store.

Some of my coworkers ate out for most meals, and others spent more than $1,500 on a dining plan. Instead, I paid Chi Theta Chi $700 to be an Eating Associate, joining one cooking or cleaning crew each week. I attended every dinner, and accessed the open kitchen for other meals. But more importantly it gave me a community of fellow students: I biked to Chi Theta Chi before my shift, enjoying a bagel, coffee and great conversation in the dining room. In the evening I would watch movies in the courtyard, and I spent my days off with residents on hiking trips. Were it not for Chi Theta Chi, I would have spent two summers lonely and broke. Instead, I was rich with friends.

My senior year I returned as a manager – the Alumni Liaison. I organized an Alumni Barbecue that was attended by more than 50 alumni. A dozen men came from the Class of 1960, who lived in Theta Chi when it was fraternity. Listening to their stories – how they packed twice as many students into the house, in bunk beds on a screened-in porch – was the highlight of that weekend. One frat brother wrote to me afterward, “I think it’s wonderful to see how you are all managing the house!  And I’d like to move in and stay there forever!”

If Chi Theta Chi’s lease is terminated, it won’t be open year-round to students – instead, it will house conferees over the summer. The alumni board will no longer lend its wisdom, history, and support.  Manager positions unique to Chi Theta Chi – including the Fix-It Manager, Capital Improvements Manager and Alumni Liaison – will be terminated.

Should the University revoke Chi Theta Chi’s lease, my opinion of Stanford will change forever. I would not feel right supporting an institution that puts revenue before the needs of students. To ignore the outcry from alumni, friends and faculty would be a betrayal – to Stanford students of the past, present, and future.

Nathalie Trepagnier ’11


Former Chi Theta Chi resident

  • Luke

    Thank you Nathalie! There are only a few communities on our campus that are able to provide this sense of intimacy and trust. It was a privilege to live there, and meanwhile, I now worry about other students (including also myself, had I very easily not had the experience) who are entering their careers and personal lives with a serious addiction to having their decisions limited, or made for them — giving us the corrosive illusion of free will.

    How are we supposed to become free beings, if our very own university thanks us unfit to help and govern ourselves?I hope to see a campus where Chi Theta Chi-esque, independently run, communities are the norm and not the exception!!! Current students should be rapidly considering self-organization and, if necessary, preparing themselves to leave the university if XOX ever does go under… (even if it doesn’t…)

  • Derek

    You seem to have put serious thought and consideration into made-up problems. There are problems in this world, your nostalgia is not one of them. I’m sorry about your house, but you’ve graduated, get over it, you have one of the best educations in the world do something with it. Don’t waste your life on small issues that only affect rich elites. I’m sure you can discredit this comment, but instead maybe you should try some serous self reflection.

  • Laura

    Derek – perhaps you don’t understand what is at stake regarding the termination of Chi Theta Chi’s lease. Current residents, like myself, are enormously affected by this ongoing dispute.

    Please visit http://www.savexox.com to learn more, and check out other relevant Daily articles:



    We appreciate stories like Nathalie’s because they help illustrate what makes Chi Theta Chi different, and important on this campus!