Brothers from the Beta Mu chapter of the Delta Tau Delta (DTD) fraternity will not return to their on-campus fraternity house next fall, following a decision from the City of Somerville not to renew the fraternity house’s special lodging permit for the upcoming academic year. As a result, the fraternity’s housing corporation will lease the house to Tufts for use as non-fraternity housing for next year.
The DTD house at 98 Professors Row has stood empty for the past year, following a stabbing incident in May 2015, after which the City of Somerville chose not to renew DTD’s lodging license for the past academic year, according to a Sept. 25, 2015 Daily article.
According to the city’s zoning ordinance, a review board comprised of city officials must approve a special permit allowing a group residence to house more than four unrelated people.
In early February, the DTD fraternity was informed that the city would once again not renew its license for next year, DTD President Ian Bollag-Miller said.
According to University President Anthony Monaco, Mayor of Somerville Joseph Curtatone and Somerville Aldermen decided not to renew DTD’s lodging license this year because of the ongoing investigation into the stabbing incident, a case that may go to court soon. In the interim, the university will lease the house from DTD next year — which the fraternity will not have access to — and potentially use it to house transfer students, Monaco said.
“If the investigation comes to a close, then the mayor is willing to let the fraternity back in and that will be the next phase,” Monaco said. “But that is certainly going to take a year, if not longer.”
Bollag-Miller, a rising senior, explained that the decision not to renew the permit was made by the city, not the university. Last fall, the university placed the fraternity on social and disciplinary probation because of the stabbing incident, but while DTD’s social probation ended in February and its disciplinary probation ends today, the status of the house is unrelated to Tufts’ punishments, he said.
“We reached an agreement with Tufts University that we would be on social probation and … [disciplinary probation] … and that was going to be our punishment for the events that happened, and we were going to be allowed to live in the house under those sanctions,” graduating senior Nolan Karpinski, former president of DTD, had explained in the September 2015 Daily article.
Bollag-Miller said that over the past year, DTD has communicated with various city officials with the goal of rebuilding its relationship with the city. For that reason, members of the fraternity were cautiously optimistic that they would be able to return to the house, he said. But even though members are not yet returning to the house, Bollag-Miller said that the fraternity still wants to work with the city and rethink its operations.
“We’ve done a lot of introspection about ourselves and … the way the community perceives us,” Bollag-Miller said. “But I think it’s a wider thing — it’s beyond just us as DTD, it’s beyond just the Greek organizations — it’s really the entire Tufts student body. I think that we all, as a community, need to be more conscious and respectful of the neighbors we have.”
According to Bollag-Miller, the fraternity house is owned by a housing corporation comprised of Tufts DTD alumni. For that reason, negotiations on the current lease have been between the corporation, the university, and the City of Somerville. Dick Reynolds (A ’67), who serves as president of the housing corporation, did not respond to the Daily’s requests for comment.
Bollag-Miller explained that as a result of the fraternity house’s independent ownership, DTD would have been legally allowed to use the house for programs over the past year, even though they could not house more than four unrelated people. However, he said they have not used the house at all because they want to maintain goodwill with the city.
“We really don’t want to take advantage of … the people who are gracious enough within the city to extend themselves to us to work with us,” Bollag-Miller said.
Bollag-Miller said that the decision to lease the house was rooted partially in the need to cover the house’s hefty operating costs.
“Our housing corps has taken a pretty sizable financial hit this year with not being able to have any of us in the house, which we really appreciate,” he said.
According to Monaco, the lease currently only lasts one year, and the fate of the house for the 2017-2018 academic year will hinge on the status of the stabbing incident’s investigation. In the meantime, Bollag-Miller said that DTD is still optimistic that the fraternity brothers will eventually return to the house, and it will continue its efforts to rebuild its relationship with the city.
“The past year has caused us to be acutely aware of the way that we are perceived by the city of Somerville,” Bollag-Miller said. “We’ve been really fortunate to connect with several members of the Somerville city government who have been helping us to figure out the best way in which we can continue to be engaged with the community.”