By Willa Brock
May Row staffers on Mayfield Avenue open their houses to outside groups looking for a place to throw a party?
That’s the question many Row staff members are asking after Residential Education told them a week and a half ago not to let outside groups use Row houses to host events. The announcement came during a “revamp” to Residential Education policy just as the fall social season gets underway.
“We are currently revamping the process to insure the safety of the house, the outside group and the University,” wrote Zac Sargeant, assistant director of Residential Education on the Row, in a Sept. 17 e-mail to Row managers. “To clarify,” he continued, “please do not allow any group to host a function in your residence.”
Asked which policy revisions are planned, Sargeant last week did not return requests for comment. Greek program advisor Amanda Rodriguez declined to comment. Nate Boswell, associate director of Residential Education on the Row, did not return a request for comment on Friday.
The hosting restriction posed problems for groups hoping to host events in the first few weeks of the quarter. Sigma Phi Epsilon, known as Sig Ep, had planned to hold its annual Oktoberfest party in La Casa Italiana on Sept. 24. But Casa community manager Gabriel Benarros ’11 said he received an e-mail from Residential Education a few days before the event saying the contract had not yet been finalized.
“It was bad because [Residential Education] promised that they’d be ready in the first week of school,” he said. “It just put Sig Ep in a hard situation, because I think it’s kind of a tradition to host [Oktoberfest] here. And I had to tell them three or four days before the party, ‘Sorry, guys. Let me know if there’s anything else we can do.’”
The fraternity ultimately held the Oktoberfest party in Xanadu on Friday.
Andy Hiller ‘11, resident assistant in Storey, speculated that the policy revamping could deal with how liabilities and damages are handled. He said the University wants the houses it owns to be respected, and by renting them to outside groups, there is less accountability for damages.
“The groups are generally very good about it—cleaning up afterwards, giving enough warning to the house in advance,” Hiller said, “but there’s a difference between renting out somebody’s space and actually living there, and it shows.”
At the same time, he continued, there is a limited amount of space on the campus to host parties. Renting space directly from the University is often more expensive than using a house for the night.
“I’m not exactly sure what the specifics of the revisions were,” said Sig Ep social chair Zach Ming ’12. “I just know that they’re giving a little more power to the houses.”
For instance, according to Ming, deposits made by outside organizations to houses are larger, up to $1,000. Houses now also have more say in whether to accept events or not, he said.
“I think it’s both better, and it makes it a little more difficult, because it rewards the outside organizations who do things right,” Ming said.
John Watson ‘11, president of un-housed fraternity Alpha Epsilon Pi, said the current lack of a contract just meant having to work a little more with the Office of Student Activities and Leadership.
“We’re trying to throw a party in Xanadu soon, so we are going to have a sit-down meeting with the CM, myself and Amanda [Rodriguez],” Watson said. “We don’t know the language of the new contract yet, so we don’t know how it’s going to affect us.”