The Residential Life Committee, a subcommittee of Community Council, has recommended that Delta house be disbanded due to failure to comply with Inter-House Council (IHC) and college regulations.
On Tuesday, March 12, Community Council at-large will vote on the passage of the report that could pose a steep challenge to the existence of the house commonly referred to by students as “ADP.” The results of the Council’s vote will then go to the desk of President of the College Ronald D. Liebowitz for a final decision on the future of the organization.
“This is the biggest place to party on campus — without question,” said President of Delta Luke Battle ’14. “Without it, I think there would be a really, really big void in the social scene that wouldn’t be filled by anywhere else.”
The primary concern of the Residential Life Committee is the amount of dorm damage — approximately $1,800 — that Delta has already accumulated this academic year. After seeing around $10,000 of dorm damage last year, the College stipulated that Delta’s damage would have to remain below $1,500 for the 2012-2013 academic year. The other social houses’ damage is capped at $2,500.
Battle called the $1,500 goal “unattainable” given the size of Delta’s parties, which often draw 200 to 400 students, according to Battle. “They’re really setting us up to fail here, as far as dorm damage goes,” he added.
Co-Chair of Community Council Barrett Smith ’13 also cited the lack of registered parties as a serious concern.
“Part of the responsibility of a social house is to throw registered parties,” said Smith. “[The houses] are given certain privileges, and in exchange, they have to comply with Vermont state law and other requests of the College.”
Battle maintains that while Delta is making a concerted effort to follow the rules, the registration process for parties is overly exhaustive.
“We understand that we have not complied completely with the College,” said Battle. “We’re trying to change so that we are complying with their wishes. We threw our first registered party of the year this past Saturday and it was a big success, but at the same time, the preparations that had to go into that and the regulations we had to follow are pretty ridiculous.”
Residential Life Committee member and former Tavern president Zach Marlette ’13 said that, even discounting errors of procedure, Delta has shown a lack of cooperation with Public Safety.
“Delta can’t have people at the house — whether they’re members or guests — that are disrespecting Public Safety,” said Marlette. “It’s all tied to the culture that they cultivate.”
Additionally, the IHC handbook requires that a minimum of 80 percent of social house members complete hazing and sexual assault training, but Delta has not met this requirement. Battle explained that many members have neglected this duty because the majority of the organization is made up of varsity athletes, who are required to complete hazing and sexual assault training with their teammates, albeit with a different module. There is no system in place in which varsity athletes can be waived from social house hazing and sexual assault training.
The Residential Life Committee reviewed all five social houses as part of a standard review process that happens every other year, alternating with a review of academic interest houses. The process begins with a questionnaire filled out by house leadership that serves to explain the house’s role in the campus community.
According to Smith, this year, the College has streamlined this questionnaire and required only initial, brief meetings. If issues arise during that meeting, then the house is called back for a more thorough review.
Marlette said that Delta did not fully complete the initial questionnaire.
“It was very bare bones,” said Marlette. “People on the committee really would have liked to see more incentive on behalf of Delta’s leadership to show that they genuinely do care about trying to do better.”
“Members of the committee seemed put off by some of [Delta’s] answers on the questionnaire and by [Battle’s] responses during the meeting, particularly surrounding the issue of party registration,” added Smith.
For next Tuesday’s meeting, Marlette advises Delta to bring “all the resources” they have.
“Delta’s really in the hole right now, and if they want to get out of this hole, then they need to show that they’re going to do better and that there actually is a huge student contingency that wants them around,” he said.
Marlette offered an alternative suggestion to Delta’s current goal of gathering a petition with 1,000 signatures.
“It’s going to make more of an impact if a bunch of students come to [Tuesday’s meeting] and show, with stories or just with their presence, that they do care about this house and that they want it to stick around, rather than just a piece of paper,” said Marlette.
“Aside from that, they just really need to address the things they messed up on,” added Marlette.
Battle hopes to gather Delta members, IHC members, other social house members and teammates at the Community Council meeting to show support for Delta.
“We’re going to try to address all their issues,” said Battle.
Smith explained that Community Council will likely utilize an executive session — during which only Council members are present — for final discussion and voting.
“The most important part of this is coming to a fair decision but also respecting the process,” said Smith. “I want to hear different voices from the community, but I also want to honor the work the Residential Life Committee has done.”
While the vote is scheduled for Tuesday, given the gravity of the outcome, there is a distinct likelihood that the Council will extend the discussion and voting into additional meetings.