In a letter sent to Community Council members dated May 16, President of the College Ronald D. Liebowitz announced the official disbandment of Delta House, revoking its residential and organizational status and putting to rest speculation that the social house might be spared.
“After reviewing this information, I confirm that I accept the Community Council recommendation not to continue the house effective immediately,” Liebowitz wrote in the letter. “I have not come to my decision easily. However, I am persuaded that Delta House has been unable to fulfill the responsibilities that come with the privilege of overseeing an organization and occupying a social house.”
In the weeks after the Community Council’s recommendation to disband the social house, rumors swirled about whether Liebowitz would accept the recommendation. His letter left little room for interpretation.
“Current house residents will continue to live at Prescott House for the remainder of the academic year,” he wrote in the letter. “Between now and the end of the year no social functions, formal or informal, registered or unregistered, may be held at the house. Any subsequent damage to the house or violations of College policy should be addressed through the College’s disciplinary process.”
The decision evoked a variety of reactions from former Delta residents and Community Council members.
“It’s disappointing but it doesn’t surprise me,” said Bryant Adams ’13, who lived in Prescott House this year. “As long as dorm damage is what determines how social houses are punished, nothing will change.”
“My biggest problem is that even when it is done by someone who doesn’t live in the house, people witness it and they end up paying for it, it still counts against the house,” he added. “Delta had a huge role on campus. We’ll see what happens next year.”
Former resident Matt Rea ’14 wrote in an email that he was “deeply discouraged” by Liebowitz’s decision but agreed with Adams that it wasn’t a surprise.
“It is unfortunate that we were unable to save Delta, but the effort we put in, between the Community Council meeting and the petitions we gathered, was nothing short of spectacular,” wrote Rea. “We will continue to fight towards reaching some sort of compromise within the realm of having Delta be put on probation.”
Former Community Council Student co-Chair Barrett Smith ’13 said he was surprised by Liebowitz’s decision, noting that he voted against disbanding the house.
“At our last conversation he seemed to be leaning towards suspending their residential status for one or two years but allowing them to continue to exist as a student organization,” Smith said. “It’s been a long and drawn out process and it’s not the resolution that I had hoped for. I think there were better, more creative solutions.”
Smith said that Liebowitz waited to announce his decision to minimize student pushback.
“He [Liebowitz] was waiting until most students were off campus. Most of the current residents are gone and most of the residents living there next year are gone, so it was a political move to limit negative student reactions.”
But incoming Community Council Chair Luke Carroll Brown ’13.5 defended Liebowitz, calling the timing coincidental.
“The President made it clear that he wanted to speak with as many stake holders in the conversation as possible, and that takes time,” he said.
Brown commended Liebowitz’s decision, and said he was surprised Delta wasn’t disbanded sooner.
“If you look at Prescott’s history, it’s repeat violation after repeat violation,” said Brown. “Social houses play an important role on campus, but with that comes responsibility. Prescott has been consistently mismanaged.”
Furthermore, Brown believes that the decision should as be seen as a validation of other social houses on campus.
“His [Liebowitz’s] letter validates that nearly all the other social houses are doing a good job managing their positions on campus,” he said.
Students who were going to live in Prescott House in the fall participated in room draw and will be living in their assigned housing next year. Prescott House will be used in summer housing draw, managed by the Dean of Students Katy Smith Abbott.
As written in Liebowitz’s letter, “The Office of the Dean of students will solicit ideas [from students] for Prescott House programming and housing options in the future.”
When reached via email, Dean of the College Shirley Collado provided a brief statement commending the work of people involved in the decision making process.
“I fully support the decision and deeply appreciate the thoughtful work that members of Community Council and the Res Life Committee put into this important review and decision.”