Residents, alumni, and members of the Chi Theta Chi community just created an online petition to Stanford administrators, and it already has over 300 signatures. You can sign the petition here. As the authors write, “In response to the termination of the house’s lease with the university, we express the benefits derived from Chi Theta Chi’s independence and ask that the university be open to identifying a solution that preserves that independence.”
Below is the full text of the letter:
February 14, 2012
Dear President Hennessy, Vice Provost Boardman, Ms. Everett, and members of the Board of Trustees:
In light of the recent decision to by Stanford Residential and Dining Enterprise (R&DE) to terminate the lease signed with Chi Theta Chi, we the alumni, current students, and supporters of the house have come together to express why Chi Theta Chi’s independence is integral to its identity and what the Stanford community stands to lose if that independence is revoked.
Chi Theta Chi fills an important and necessary role at Stanford. As the only independently operated cooperative house on campus, Chi Theta Chi has been operating and providing a home for students through the efforts of its residents and alumni board. Students choose to draw into Chi Theta Chi because they want to take ownership over their space and shape their community. In its current state as an independent house, Chi Theta Chi:
*Teaches practical life skills. From caulking bathroom tiles to planning and executing a complex renovation, Chi Theta Chi’s residents have the opportunity to learn practical skills that they would fail to experience if they only lived in university-operated housing – even other co-ops.
*Instills accountability and respect for space. The condition of the house is entirely dependent on the actions of its residents and alumni; plans for large-scale improvements as well as daily tasks such as cleaning and cooking are internally managed, and thus residents learn to regard the house with the same level of respect that a homeowner feels towards his or her property.
*Fosters sense of community and pride. The residents of Chi Theta Chi join a community of hundreds of alumni that have maintained the house over decades. As stewards of the house, residents gain a sense of pride in their contribution to Chi Theta Chi’s continued existence.
*Encourages expression and creation. Whether developing backyard gardens or painting murals in the house, students feel at liberty to freely express themselves within the structure itself. This fosters communal creativity and innovation that result in artistic expression beyond the walls of the house, including films, art displays, and innumerable other creative works.
*Offers open-mindedness and freedom from judgment. Residents and alumni govern Chi Theta Chi, and thus an have unparalleled opportunity to shape its culture. Every single individual in the house has a say in its future and actively dictates its identity. Because the house is an evolving reflection of its inhabitants, no one in Chi Theta Chi is ever an outsider.
These are benefits that are the direct result of Chi Theta Chi’s independence, *not* a result of its designation as a cooperative house – and they are benefits that will be lost if that independence is revoked.
Chi Theta Chi is not a perfect place for everyone. University-maintained housing undeniably offers students a more carefree existence in which residents are not faced with the responsibilities of home ownership; these students choose to direct their energy elsewhere, and the university respects that. The students that choose to draw into Chi Theta Chi do so because they want to direct their energy towards building an independent community. The strength of support of that independent community has never been more evident than now, when its existence is threatened; letters and emails have poured from alumni expressing their support of Chi Theta Chi’s independence and wanting to know how they can help.
By attempting to strip away the independence of Chi Theta Chi, the University:
*Demeans the decades of work put into the house by former residents
*Indicates a complete lack of faith in the capabilities of both students and alumni
*Invalidates the desire of residents to take part in home ownership and shape their community
*Risks depriving future students of the opportunity to join a self-governed community that teaches them valuable life skills
*Destroys the unifying element of Chi Theta Chi’s extensive alumni community
Many of us came to Stanford because the university encourages students to explore their interests and offers a supportive, open-minded community, but this drastic move by R&DE threatens that reality. We ask that you be open to preserving Chi Theta Chi’s independence for the above stated reasons, and we are committed to working with the university to achieve this in a way that is safe, professional, and most beneficial for the student community.
The Undersigned Alumni, Students, and Stanford Community Members