Posts Tagged ‘Chi Theta Chi’

More to the Story: why Chi Theta Chi is losing its lease

Thursday, May 17th, 2012

“Theta Chi House is a fine example of the Spanish Eclectic style of architecture and the work of a master architect, Will G. Corlett” reads the history of Chi Theta Chi (XOX) conducted last year. XOX is more than fifty years old, and is thus considered a an historic property. This fact has played very little into the recent events surrounding the decision by Stanford to not renew XOX’s lease. The University cited health and safety code violations and a lapse in corporate status as reasons for not renewing the lease, while XOX countered with protests about community and independence. However, the House itself is key to the debate, superseding more philosophical questions. (more…)

If You Want to Save Chi Theta Chi, March on the Vice Provost’s Office This Monday!

Saturday, May 12th, 2012

Chi Theta Chi (XOX) will march on the Vice Provost's office this Monday to fight to maintain its independence.

This Monday, May 14, at 9:30am, the residents, alumni, and friends of Chi Theta Chi (XOX) will march on the office of Vice Provost for Student Affairs to defend the house’s lease before the deaf ears of the Stanford administration. If you want to save this house’s independence, you must join them.

Stanford, a variety of legitimate causes on campus compete for your attention. As a small, close-knit community, XOX does not have a big voice, and it might seem marginal enough not to merit your attention. But nothing could be further from the truth. The case of XOX represents the way “Mama Stanford” will continue to impose its heavy hand on any students who run afoul of the administration’s nebulous parameters for acceptable conduct. As Kappa Sigma and the Leland Stanford Junior University Marching Band know from recent experience, once you get on the administration’s bad side, they will come after you like a pack of rabid wolves the next time you slip up, no matter how minor your mistake is, or how little warning you have received.

XOX has faced the worst of this moralistic bullying. With no advance warning, the University decided to revoke XOX’s lease unilaterally; after months of negotiations between the house’s Alumni Board and administration officials, the Vice Provost’s office has only offered to reconsider the house’s lease after a two-year “interim period.” Given the current behavior of the administration, this solution is unacceptable for the following reasons:

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“An Affirmation of Life’s Beauty:” A Letter to President Hennessy on Chi Theta Chi

Friday, February 24th, 2012

The friendly residents of Chi Theta Chi.

The following letter is from Dana Edwards ’14.

Dear President Hennessy,

I lived in Chi Theta Chi this past fall quarter, and I am saddened and taken aback by the university’s move to assume control over the co-op. Dr. Hennessy, I respectfully ask for you to exercise your executive power and prevent Residential and Dining Enterprises from terminating our lease. In order to illustrate why Chi Theta Chi means so much to me, to my 35 brothers and sisters who currently live in the house, and to hundreds of Chi Theta Chi alumni–and in order to illustrate why stripping us of our autonomy is tantamount to stripping away the very soul of this place–I will tell you my story. It’s a little long-winded, and riddled with generalities, but it’s extremely honest. I cried when I wrote this. For this reason, I ask that you read on.

Like many Chi Theta Chi residents of past and present, I hated my freshman dormitory, but found a loving home in this historic building. As a wide-eyed freshman on the first day of New Student Orientation, I arrived at a certain freshman dorm in Wilbur Hall to hear my name screamed by dorm staff who were somehow already familiar with my face.  It was a demonstration of the RAs’ dedication, to be sure, but also a taste of the sort of giddy artifice that has come to define the freshman residential experience, annually laying the plumage for the newest flush of Stanford Ducks.

As 21st century Stanford matriculates, we were a remarkable group of young adults–sensitive, hard-working, intelligent–and yet the culture in our dormitory did not encourage intellectual cross-pollination or creative vision, or provide an open environment to discuss our very real fears and frustrations; instead it reveled in intolerable fakeness. It was Camp Stanford, and I was not a happy camper. I was depressed. (Given, I had just returned from Burning Man, perhaps the most open and expressive of counterculture environments, so the transition to artifice was made all the more abrupt.)

The building itself made me feel like a pampered inmate: white cinderblock walls and frameless hydraulic doors, a prison of fluorescent sterility attended by an anonymous custodian. Awkwardness abounded, disingenuous dorm pride supplanted everyone’s secret feeling of not belonging, and the cheering of our oddly offensive cheer forever rang in the air and turned my stomach. (more…)

The Screams These Walls Shall Not Contain: A Personal Statement

Thursday, February 23rd, 2012

by Peter McDonald ’11, Chi Theta Chi resident 2009-2011

The walls of Chi Theta Chi are thin, very thin, as are the floors. Solitude comes at a premium, though the space is still suitable for studying. The thinness of the walls has significant effect on house life, though. They are a constant annoyance for the more gossip-minded residents because there is a significant chance that whomever they’re talking about, might actually hear them, even if they’re on the second floor (the presence of gossip, by the way, indicates the presence of a healthy, functioning community, because it means people actually care about what other people do). The walls and floors also pose a problem whenever someone decides to blast their music, a lesson I learned numerous times throughout the years. This is not a soundproof house by any means. The audible manifestations of joy and passion that fill it spill out into the hallways frequently. The courtyard is almost a whispering gallery.

In the summer of 2010, my computer started booting for eternity. For the following year, my second in Chi Theta Chi, without the money or time to spend fixing it, I had to rely on the computers in the cluster in the basement. Like all parts of XƟX, the cluster had its own personality, one that stands in stark contrast to the rest of the residences on campus. The paint job is light blue. The ceiling above the cluster is mostly drywall. A knock on it produces a hollow sound. It did have a couch, which became my bed for about three to four nights each week, when I didn’t feel like making the two-flight trek back to my assigned room. One would not think that a person could become attached to a computer cluster, but by the end of just two quarters, attached I became. I spent so much time there that it was a running joke among the residents that I lived in the cluster. Sound travels downward as easily as it does any other direction; any loud noises from the dining hall or the foyer will make their way into the cluster.

I have heard that Stanford is in the midst of a mental health crisis, a crisis motivated by the “Stanford duck syndrome.” We all tell each other that we are not alone, and then we spend almost all of our times away from each other, either physically or with an electronic shield. I remember the lounges of my residences freshman and sophomore year. They were almost always empty. After the first weeks of fall quarter at the max, one feels foolish for wanting to bond with one’s housemates, and so our struggles continue underneath the surface, the metal doors become the mirroring pond, with the reinforced walls, at the expense of learning about each other and growing together, all to preserve the essentialist veneer, the veneer that plagues the Ivy League, the veneer we all buy into at our own cost, the belief that “those kinds of things,” the kinds of things we don’t want to but need to talk about, just don’t happen at Stanford. At Chi Theta Chi, the common areas are almost never empty. We must carry out our unpleasant business with at least some effort. (more…)

Chi Theta Chi Starts Online Petition, Rapidly Gains Signatures

Tuesday, February 14th, 2012

Chi Theta Chi residents demonstrate their responsibility on work days that occur periodically throughout the year. These days, such as the one shown above, focus on maintenance and long-term projects.

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. (more…)

Chi Theta Chi Releases Official Statement

Friday, February 10th, 2012

The residents of Chi Theta Chi, 2010-2011.

The following message is attributed to the Chi Theta Chi residents, student staff, and alumni board:

Early Wednesday evening, Stanford Residential Dining and Enterprises (RD&E) and Stanford Student Affairs informed Chi Theta Chi staff of their plans to revoke the house’s lease, beginning today, February 9, 2012.   By doing so, the University would evict from campus one of the last remaining independent student houses and transfer ownership of Chi Theta Chi to RD&E.

We are confused and saddened by the University’s attempt to remove ownership of the property from the house’s alumni board, which has controlled the property for decades.  This transfer of ownership would directly undermine the diversity of the living options available to to undergraduates – counter to the university’s stated goal.  In his message on diversity, President Hennessy wrote, “We realize that a variety of approaches are necessary to foster diversity throughout the university, and we will continue to give careful attention to these important efforts.”  Chi Theta Chi, in its current state of private ownership, is one of those necessary approaches.  The removal of Chi Theta Chi’s independence would be a detriment not only to its residents, but also to the entire student body, which benefits from the diversity the house had supported for over thirty years.

Chi Theta Chi’s unique independence has made it a home for all of us as students, and in the past the university has respected our rich diversity of interests and living preferences.  We are disheartened by the university’s announcement, which came with minimal forewarning and which we believe disregards the exceptional efforts and improvements the staff of Chi Theta Chi have made to keep the house a safe and supportive environment for all of its residents.  We call upon the university to uphold their agreement in the terms of the lease to meet with the house to discuss less drastic alternatives.  We trust that the University will not allow short-sighted technicalities destroy our house’s independence.