Delta House to Face Council’s Vote

by / social houses (7) in News /
Prescott house, located in the Ridgeline woods area of campus, houses members of Delta. (Courtesy)

 

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.

  • Dean Vernon Wormer

    Cut the horseshit, son. I’ve got their disciplinary files right here. Who dropped a whole truckload of fizzies into the varsity swim meet? Who delivered the medical school cadavers to the alumni dinner? Every Halloween, the trees are filled with underwear. Every spring, the toilets explode.

    • Midd Student ’13

      Should a Dean really speak to a student this way?

      • NicelyNicely Jognson

        that is a line from a movie…

      • Dean Vernon Wormer

        Fat, drunk and stupid is no way to go through life, son.

  • jbfan

    Here’s some dorm damage for ya:

  • hmm

    i am very interested to see if they get more people to support ADP staying then divestment from fossil fuels and arms manufactures.

    Their parties also suck.

  • Midd alum

    I think it is unfortunate that the school continues to eliminate large social spaces on campus, forcing students to overwhelm remaining facilities or take their parties off campus. During my 4 years this was an ongoing issue that frankly the administration has failed to address in constructive ways. Regardless of whether you are a fan of ADP or not, such spaces play a key role in the Middlebury social scene by providing non-exclusive venues open to all students. During my 3 years as a member of Delta I saw everything from a Mamajamas after-party, to an ES 201 finals celebration, to a Football pregame hosted in the ADP basement. Some of my closest bonds and fondest memories were forged as a member of the social house community, relationships that continue to play a key role in achieving career aspirations and future academic goals.

    Addressing the issue of dorm damage. My senior year the house encountered similar issues. Unfortunately, being a non-exclusive social space comes with the cost of having a limited choice of who comes through the door. Although as house members we cultivated a culture of responsibility and mutual respect among ourselves, there were several times when parties would get overwhelmed with other Middlebury students that often disrespected house members and abused or vandalized the space. I remember one night when I was working the door at a registered party and requested to mark the hand of an underage student, I was literally shoved through the door until one of my guy friends confronted the student and had public safety escort them out. Another time I saw a student who not a single member of my house knew or recognized rip off the siding of one of the heaters in the basement. Do ADP members have a responsibility to ensure that they comply with party registration rules? Absolutely! However I know first-hand how difficult it can be to control a large crowd of drunk students and how quickly a party of 150 students can escalate to a party of 300.

    I think eliminating ADP is a band-aid solution that won’t resolve the broader issue of a culture of disrespect and privilege (among some, not all students) that leads to excessive dorm damage and alcohol related incidents. By minimizing available social spaces on campus, damage will continue to be concentrated among remaining venues and students will choose off-campus alternatives where the administration has zero control (The Quarry Road incident my sophomore year comes to mind). As Middlebury continues to expand its undergraduate population it will be increasingly important to retain organizations like Delta, Tavern, Xenia, KDR, and the Mill that create a sense of camaraderie and community among students with common values and social interests. I hope for the sake of future Midd students that members of Delta and the administration are able to have production conversations about how to resolve this issue and ensure that the social house system remains balanced.