Widgets Magazine

XOX plans march for autonomy

Chi Theta Chi (XOX) residents and members of the Stanford community will march on the office of the Vice Provost of Student Affairs this morning in protest of the University’s decision to terminate the house’s lease and in support of the house’s continued independence.

“The [University] has repeatedly ignored and evaded the residents of Chi Theta Chi during the process of their takeover,” said a Facebook event page dedicated to the march. “The residents of Chi Theta Chi and all those in solidarity will march…to make their voices heard.”

According to the event page, which listed 85 attendees at the time of publication, protestors will march on the office of Student Affairs and make a direct case for the house’s continued independence.

“With a forceful and passionate turnout…we can show the University that this cause will not go away,” wrote George Malkin ’13, a former XOX resident, in a post on The Unofficial Stanford Blog.

Administrators first moved to terminate Chi Theta Chi’s lease on Feb. 8, citing “pressing life safety issues,” with the intent of assuming control of the house on April 2. The University later postponed the takeover until Aug. 31, when the annually renewed lease will expire.

XOX Alumni Board representatives and University officials are currently close to an agreement that will provide for joint oversight of the house for a “minimum of two years.”

XOX residents protested the University’s Feb. 8 announcement vociferously, disputing various rationales put forward by administrators as grounds for the lease’s termination and criticizing the lack of notice provided in advance of the announcement. In subsequent weeks, a petition supporting the house’s independence gathered more than 2,000 signatures, and the ASSU Undergraduate Senate unanimously approved a resolution advocating the lease’s renewal.

“We believe the University is beginning to understand why independence is critical to the house’s unique character, thanks to the outpouring of support from alumni and the community at large,” wrote Abel Allison ’08, president of the Alumni Board, in a March 12 email to The Daily.

In recent weeks, residents have been much more muted in their protests. According to Gerald Hanono ’12, XOX house manager, the shift was prompted by requests from administrators and the Alumni Board to create a less strained atmosphere for ongoing negotiations.

However, as details of the proposed resolution emerge, residents and supporters have returned to a more vocal posture in an effort to more directly convey their displeasure with the settlement. Protest organizers singled out an alleged lack of clarity on how the house can regain its lease, as well as the loss of XOX’s singular autonomy under joint oversight, as particular sticking points.

“Residential and Dining Enterprises and the Vice Provost’s Office have continuously displayed a fundamental lack of understanding of [XOX’s] culture,” Malkin wrote. “XOX’s culture is rooted in its independence.”

Event organizers have also sought to portray the debate as one with implications beyond Chi Theta Chi, arguing that the decision to let the lease expire is simply a manifestation of sustained University efforts to “homogenize” residential life.

“We ask you to stand with us (literally) to show…that Stanford is one community, that the injustices faced by one house affect us all,” the event page read.

Following an all-campus breakfast at Chi Theta Chi at 9 a.m. on Monday, marchers will depart for the office of Student Affairs at 9.30 a.m.

About Marshall Watkins

Marshall Watkins is a senior staff writer at The Stanford Daily, having previously worked as the paper's executive editor and as the managing editor of news. Marshall is a junior from London majoring in Economics, and can be reached at mtwatkins "at" stanford "dot" edu.
  • shame

    I’m so ashamed of being a part of this student body. Of all the horrifying problems in the world to mobilize against, here students only march against the possibility of university oversight over Stanford’s famous drug house. 

    Good luck, everyone, on your quest to secure the right to snort coke unobstructed. The billions of people around you who struggle for every meal wish you luck as well, I’m sure. 

  • Student

    Meanwhile, I’m ashamed of your absolute ignorance. XOX cannot be boiled down to “drug house.” Some residents, myself included even abstain from any substance use at all. XOX is much more about building an accepting community that supports independence and individuality. The fact is that many residents of XOX are the very ones who do mobilize in support of other causes; that’s why they’ve been so good at mobilizing in support of the house. It’s clear you’re not familiar with the way the XOX community works at present, otherwise you’d understand that it’s a wonderful group of 35 residents who deeply care about each other as a family–the kind of residents who aren’t “ashamed of being a part of this student body” simply because ignorant people like you are, too.

  • other student

    I’m ashamed that people like you are part of this student body. 

  • The organizer of the march

     You’re ashamed of the student body? Well that makes two of us. You want to organize a march against drone warfare, or the privatization of prisons, or mass deportations, or the level of hunger in this country or literally ANYTHING, I’ll be there with bells on, but instead you’d rather complain and feel superior about yourself. Take some action in your own community instead of shaming others into inaction. And next time, please refrain from commenting on issues about which you are completely ignorant.

  • Thomas Joseph

    The Internet allows for anonymity which is great sometimes when you want to watch porn but when we’re having to have a real discussion on our school newspaper’s website, it’d be good to stand up and show ourselves, especially when we’re just going to write inflammatory statements.

  • Ivan DeGroote

    Drugs, and our openness about them, might make for the best gossip, but it is not who we are. I abstain from all drugs, even alcohol most of the time, and have never felt as an outsider in Chi Theta Chi. My family’s openness to exploration, our fondness for rally, our communal showers – these are not what make us a community. These are symptoms of the trust and acceptance we show each other. That is what we are fighting for.

  • How Silly

    Why all the vitriol? Shockingly enough, a person can care about ending hunger and about preserving their home *at the same time*!

    If you had ever lived in XOX, you may have encountered a few such multidimensional people.

  • Stanford ’08

    I can’t help but feel that this is much adieu about nothing. If the University feels that there are health and safety concerns, they have every right to terminate a lease agreement and provide housing to students that would be better stewards of what they’re given.  If “independence” is what the XOX house really wants, I find it oxymoron that they so desperately seek support and from the student body and the demand continued support from the university. For true independence, rent a house off campus. More importantly, save the marching and protesting for causes less inane and self-centric.

  • student

    you obviously haven’t done your research about the meaning of “independence” in this context. 

  • XOX alum

    the lease agreement is being terminated on embellished charges, many of which are easily fixed, and not at all just cause for university takeover. ALTHO, I do tend to agree with you on one point ’08: If you are a student in any other dorm on campus, my advice would be to start seriously thinking about renting that off-campus house you’ve been dreaming of, stuff it with a bunch of friends to save money, learn to cook and clean together, and get out while you still can – before our on campus lives have been entirely monopolized! If the ResEd/Student Affairs/S&DE empire does get their way, LET’S SEE A STUDENT HOUSING STRIKE, AND THE CREATION OF DOZENS, HUNDREDS, BILLIONS OF XOX’s!!! hit the money-grubbing university where it hurts and park that RV on palm drive!

  • Blue Scholar

    “Now you trying to change the world when your home is a mess
    Got your priorities mixed up, you failing the test” – Blue Scholars “George Jackson” LISTEN UP!!!

  • Guest

    Somehow, I doubt your bells would be on, given that there are no grand marches for any of those real problems. That is the point. There are legitimate campaigns in your “community” that you could be organizing marches for: SLAC’s living wage campaign for Stanford workers, SPER’s campaign for divestment from the human rights abuse funded by Stanford’s endowment, SSNW’s protests against the war criminals in Stanford’s faculty. Where is XOX’s “independent spirit” when it comes to speaking out for anything outside itself? 

  • shame

    The fact that you’re an exception to the rule only proves that there is a rule. Even if XOX’s reputation were entirely fabricated, and my encounters with its “culture” were an absolute deviation from the norm, this campaign would still be absurdly self-indulgent. If XOX wanted to preserve “independence and individuality” so badly, then residents would just rent a house off campus. And if your “family” is as strong as you claim, then it will have no problems surviving joint oversight with the university.

    If it’s true that many residents mobilize for other causes, then they don’t do it very well. What other cause has gotten the same publicity as XOX this year? With all the suffering that could be alleviated by collective effort on this campus, can you possibly believe that directing such attention towards XOX is warranted? At best, it’s bratty; at worst, contemptible.

  • Notdmw

    Are you seriously harassing XOX for actually getting enough momentum to take a stance? Instead of taking an hour to write a pompous comment on an anonymous online forum detailing every problem that had ever existed on Stanford’s campus, how about appreciating the few people willing to go far enough to do something about one of them?

    Please.Grow up, get off the internet and find yourself something believe in. 

  • Notdmw

    The XOX cause is known on campus because we make it known. Because we put in time, effort, emotion, and thought into making sure this situation resolves in the only acceptable way there is. 

    You don’t know anything about XOX, and XOX doesn’t know anything about you. Let’s not pretend to. All I can say is, these people are working their butts off trying to reach a resolution to save their home, and you’re spending your time literally complaining about complaining. Wow. 

  • student

    Then MAKE those other problems known YOURSELF. If there are issues that affect you, that you want to speak out against, that keep you up at night, then mobilize, rally support, get people’s attention. That is literally what we have chosen to do about an issue that affects us, if there is something that hits you as hard then DO something about it, and we will support you, as long as you don’t put down other causes in the process. Otherwise, get off the internet and off this campus.

  • student

    “If it’s true that many other residents mobilize for other causes, then they don’t do it very well.”

    Do yourself a favor and point that mirror at yourself. 

  • The organizer of the march

     It’s funny that you mention war criminals at Stanford because I’m in the process of writing an op-ed about Tony Blair coming to campus right now. I wish there were more marches on campus, but it’s not really that simple as “well why don’t you march for that too” unless you’re one of those people that believes that marches are useless and don’t do anything. More importantly, XOX isn’t a political organization. It’s just a house. Even so, I did not treat using these tactics lightly.

    I don’t think we’re actually that far apart, you and I. If you want to have an IN PERSON conversation about XOX or the state of activism on campus, I am 100% down. Just name the time and place. Otherwise, I’m going to keep doing what I can to defend the house that was my home for two years. I hope you can forgive that.

  • Proponent of Campus Democracy

    Imagine all the suffering we could alleviate if we:

    1st) Took democratic worker/faculty/student control of our university!!! — with persistant collective direct action and community organizing, like yesterday’s rally, but longer and with more voices…

    2nd) …and then forced our board of trustees and president to channel the staggering $16 billion endowment OUT OF the pharmaceutical, oil, and weapons industries INTO, I don’t know, providing a quality cooperative/agricultural education for the “children of California,” like Stanford’s mission statement and our founders intended


    MEET US HALFWAY, shame! You act like XOX residents are some monolithic being, when in fact, we are like you and whichever community you call yours, a bunch of people with a variety of activities and interests outside of our home (including, in fact, SPER, SLAC, SSNW, and Occupy – which you forgot to mention – though has been mobilizing steadfastly for public education and participatory democracy). Try seeing this struggle as the beginning of a campus-wide movement for transparency and community democracy – not as a threat to your definition of “activism.” AND PLEASE COME TO DINNER THIS WEEK… and we can mobilize this student body together! LOVE YOU

  • Lee Altenberg, Ph.D. ’85

    The key fact that has gotten lost in the discussion is that Chi Theta Chi OWNS its house; it is only leasing the land.  But Stanford inserted into the lease some 40 years ago the clause that it could take ownership of the house by terminating the lease any time it wished.  It resisted the temptation for 40 years until now.  Stanford did not build the house, and Stanford has never owned the house.  In point of fact, it was built by a 21 year old student who founded a fraternity, got the lease from Leland Stanford himself, got a loan based on that lease, and hired a contractor to build the house.  The essential question to be asking is: When is it morally acceptable for Stanford to take property away from its rightful owners?  Are these conditions met in this situation?The fact that this central moral question is not at the center of discussion is really significant there seems to be some “reality distortion field” that prevents the matter of property rights from being debated.  My guess is that it is the culture of “in loco parentis” – children, after all, don’t really own their property, their parents do.  Everyone subconsciously sees students in the archetype of children, and administrators in the archetype of parents.  The Student Affairs administration basically decided that XOX is a bad child and is punishing it by taking away ownership of its house.The real “adult in the room” – the Provost, President, or Board of Trustees – has to pull the administration out of this parent/child paradigm and realize it is morally unacceptable to seize alumni property except in the case of extreme malfeasance, which is as far from the case with Chi Theta Chi and its alumni board as I can imagine.  XOX is not perfect of course, but neither is Housing or ResEd, yet Student Affairs is using any flaws it can find as justification for seizing ownership of their $3.5 million house and its $200,000 annual income stream.  That is the gross injustice in this situation.And if you can’t stop gross injustice in your own back yard – in your own LIFE, how can you feign to stop it in the larger world?