After sitting vacant for a year in the wake of a May 2015 double stabbing on the premises, Delta Tau Delta (DTD) fraternity’s house at 98 Professors Row has been leased to Tufts for the academic year. The building, which is owned by DTD’s alumni housing corporation, is primarily being used to house transfer students, effectively barring fraternity members from 98 Professors Row for another year.
Somerville Mayor Joe Curtatone and the Board of Aldermen first declined to renew DTD’s lodging license due to the open investigation into the May 2015 stabbing incident, according to University President Anthony Monaco.
“I support [the city’s] decision,” Monaco said in a May 2016 interview with the Daily. “I’d like to understand what actually happened in that circumstance [of the stabbing].”
City zoning ordinance 2.2.19 dictates that any dwelling that houses more than four unrelated people must be issued a lodging house license, which is typically renewed every year. In the years prior to 2015, DTD’s housing license had been renewed annually during the summer without incident or discussion, according to Somerville Board of Aldermen minutes.
According to DTD President Ian Bollag-Miller, when the city did not renew the house’s license again in 2016, the alumni corporation decided to lease the space to the university for one year.
Under the building’s new designation as university housing, the university was granted a lodging license for 21 people to live at 98 Professors Row, according to minutes from an Aug. 25 Somerville Board of Aldermen meeting. Alderman Dennis Sullivan, who chairs the board’s Licenses and Permits Committee, said the house would be designated as alcohol-free.
The university’s choice to use 98 Professors Row as transfer student housing marks the return of a dedicated house for transfer students, a practice that the Office of Residential Life and Learning (ResLife) canceled last year due to a housing shortage.
“We wanted to keep the incoming transfer students together as a cohort, and assigned them to 98 Professors Row that also has a few returning upper class students,” ResLife Director Yolanda King told the Daily in an email.
Eighteen residents — the majority of whom are transfer students — currently live in the house along with a Graduate Resident Director, King explained. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, Tufts enrolled 76 transfer students last year, so 98 Professors Row houses just a fraction of the transfer student population.
In the past, Wilson House had been used to house transfer students. However, due to a shortage of staffed residence halls last year, ResLife assigned first-years and returning students to Wilson House and scattered transfer students throughout campus. King noted that Wilson House will continue to house some first-years this year, and it will not be designated as the transfer student house.
A lease for 98 Professors Row was negotiated between the alumni corporation, the university and the city last spring, according to Bollag-Miller. The lease was negotiated through the city to ensure that city officials would allow the house to be licensed for non-fraternity housing, he added.
Alderman Katjana Ballantyne said at the Aug. 25 Aldermen meeting that the current status of 98 Professors Row is likely temporary, and that DTD may be allowed to return to the house next year.
“The fraternity will probably look next year to come back to talk to myself and the administration about whether we think they’ve done their due diligence to go back into that building,” Ballantyne said at the meeting.
The city’s refusal to renew DTD‘s housing license is unrelated to university punishments for the stabbing incident, according to Bollag-Miller. DTD’s disciplinary probation ended last May, and DTD is no longer under any official university sanctions, he said.
“The fraternity is still recognized and in good standing with the university, just currently not housed,” Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life Director Su McGlone wrote in an email to the Daily.
While the investigation continues, Bollag-Miller said that DTD is focused on rebuilding its relationship with the city. He explained that the fraternity has worked with the city for the past year to rethink its role in the community, and while it will not return to its house this year, he is still committed to that goal. He added that DTD is optimistic that it will reoccupy the house next year.
“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 in a May interview with the Daily. “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.”