Stanford moved Wednesday to revoke the lease of Chi Theta Chi, one of two non-University operated houses on campus, citing lease violations, liability concerns and “pressing life safety issues.”
“Stanford hereby elects to terminate the lease pursuant to the termination right set forth in…the Lease,” read a letter delivered to the Alpha Epsilon Alumni Association of Theta Chi Fraternity, Inc.
The University will take control of the house on April 2, due to “the Lessee’s failure to adequately respond to multiple and chronic breaches of the Lease,” read the letter, signed by Vice Provost of Student Affairs Greg Boardman and Senior Associate Vice Provost of Residential and Dining Enterprises Shirley Everett.
Chi Theta Chi, a house known for its independent spirit, began functioning as a co-operative in 1973 but did not officially split from Theta Chi Fraternity until the late ’80s.
XOX is one of two houses, the other being Sigma Chi, that are not operated directly by Stanford University, but rather have lease-hold agreements. The University owns the land on which XOX sits, but rents the plot on a long-term contract with a land-use fee. In the past, this agreement has allowed students more autonomy regarding administrative decisions. A May 1990 report on “Co-operative Living at Stanford” describes the house as ”a haven for groups seeking to avoid University red tape.”
“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,” said a press release from Chi Theta Chi. “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 what former XOX Resident Assistant (RA) Bear Douglas ’09 M.A. ’10 and former Resident Computer Consultant Abel Allison ’08, both members of the XOX alumni board, described as an “ambush” in an email to a XOX alumni email list, a regularly-scheduled meeting between XOX representatives and Stanford Housing Wednesday was attended by Boardman, Dean of Residential Education Deborah Golder, Executive Director of Student Housing Rodger Whitney and other administrators.
The contingent informed XOX that after deliberation, the University decided not to renew the house’s lease for this coming fall and to take control of the house on the first day of spring quarter. Students will begin paying rent to the University at the start of spring quarter this year. The house, which normally remains open, will be closed this coming summer to allow for University renovations.
According to the email by Allison and Douglas, the University provided several reasons for its decision. University officials cited that XOX has been using the tax identification number of Theta Chi Fraternity, despite the receipt of a cease-and-desist letter from the organization. Both Allison and Douglas denied any knowledge of this violation or such a letter.
The email also said administrators allege that XOX has failed multiple fire safety inspections, is both financially and administratively incapable of avoiding ongoing defaults and has failed to maintain corporate status in California.
Administrators also cited concerns that the University is ultimately responsible in the event of any lawsuits against the house, according to the email. A portion of students living in XOX are assigned to the house through the University draw, a factor that creates additional concerns for administrators worried about the experience of students who did not actively choose to live in the house.
The University is “committed to working with the [XOX] alumni board and the residents of the house to continue a co-op in the Chi Theta Chi house,” Whitney said, emphasizing that the University is concerned foremost with ensuring the well-being of students and “the long and short-term stewardship of the house.”