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Meet 576 Alvarado Row

With the opening of the 2013 Housing Draw on April 10th came a fair amount of confusion. The tier system, preassignment, draw groups – they all take a bit of know-how to get used to.

But my main confusion when logging onto the R&DE portal to check out my housing options for next year was the appearance of a new residence: 576 Alvarado Row. Next to it, in parentheses, it explains: “formerly Chi Theta Chi.”

Now, I wasn’t confused because I didn’t know where 576 Alvarado Row was. I currently live two doors down at Hammarskjöld House (592 Alvarado Row), so I recognized my neighbor’s address.

I was confused because, despite closely following the news of Stanford’s acquisition of Chi Theta Chi (XOX) over the last year and a half, I didn’t know the University had actually decided to do away with the co-op’s familiar name.

XOX’s story is well known on Stanford campus. The thirty-person house was regularly in The Daily for a large portion of last year. Prior to April 2012, XOX was operated independently by the owners of a long-term lease. The land has always been Stanford’s, but the house had more autonomy than other Stanford-operated residences.

Citing health and safety concerns on the property last winter, the University declined to reinstate XOX’s lease, thereby acquiring the residence.

After noticing the name change on the housing site, I tried to imagine the University’s rationale. My first thought was that XOX might still have some Greek affiliation that the new owners didn’t want to maintain, like when Kappa Sig’s house became 1035 Campus Drive for the period when the fraternity wasn’t actually housed there. But after a quick Google search, I found that the house officially split from any affiliation with the Theta Chi fraternity in the late 1980s. So that can’t be it.

It’s also possible that after the buy-out, the former owners of XOX didn’t want the house to keep the name while being run by Stanford, Inc. I couldn’t find any statements about this, though, and since the XOX board was very openly communicative about the status of the house during the whole ordeal, I doubt it’s the case.

The other thing I thought might be – and probably is – the cause of the name change was the extensive controversy surrounding the University’s re-integration of the house as a Stanford-owned property. In my opinion, if that is the case, the renaming does little more than sweep the whole situation under the rug.

The name of the house might seem insignificant, but I don’t think it is. XOX has been a symbol of independence and open-mindedness on Stanford’s campus for decades. It’s home to a microcosm of its own distinct, dynamic culture. Even if you don’t agree with or enjoy that culture, I hope you can appreciate that it is here. And I don’t think it’s going anywhere, even if the name is.

Mark Bessen ‘15

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