The Tufts administration purchased the property at 123 Packard Avenue on Jan. 7 for two million dollars. The house, which was previously owned by the Theta Delta Chi Corporation, will be used to expand on-campus housing options for students, according to Executive Director of Public Relations Patrick Collins.
“While the current occupants have lived in the property without incident this academic year, it is not in the best long-term interests of our students, our neighbors, or the university to have a large number of undergraduates living at the property with no relationship with or oversight by Tufts Residential Life and the Tufts University Police Department,” Collins said in an email to the Daily.
According to Collins, the property at 123 Packard will become a residential building for Tufts students starting in the fall of the 2019–2020 academic year. He stated that the university plans to upgrade safety and security features and also add Tufts IT features to the building.
“Over the long term, the university will investigate renovation opportunities, including the potential for additional on-campus social spaces and the feasibility of increasing occupancy,” Collins said. “This acquisition will contribute to the overall university goal of adding beds on campus for our students.”
Director of Real Estate Robert Chihade emphasized that the purchase would help to address problems on campus.
“The acquisition of 123 Packard Avenue by the university ensures the property will be appropriately folded into Tufts undergraduate housing system, and may be used to address other university priorities, including opportunities to create and utilize space that enhances student life,” Chihade told the Daily in an email.
According to Collins, the process of purchasing the house began in 1988, when the Theta Delta Chi Corporation granted the university the right to purchase the house “in the event that the University shall determine in its own sole discretion that the Premises, or any part thereof, are required for University purposes.”
He said that the process of purchasing the property was outlined in the agreement, and Tufts began taking steps to purchase the property in September 2018.
Current occupants of the house, who were formerly paying rent to the Theta Delta Chi Corporation, will be allowed to remain in the house until the conclusion of the 2018–2019 academic year. According to Collins, the tenants will pay the university the same rent that they paid Theta Delta Chi Corporation, and the university has applied for a lodging house license in Somerville.
“The University will honor the rental agreements the current occupants had with TDC through the end of this academic year. In the Fall of the 2019–2020 academic year, occupancy in the house will be priced consistent with other Tufts on-campus housing options,” Collins said.
In October 2017, the university dissolved its recognition of Theta Delta Chi and banned it from applying to return to campus before 2027, according to Collins. The Theta Delta Chi Corporation still owned the house at this time.
The Theta Delta Chi Corporation applied to Somerville this past fall for a lodging house license to lease rooms to 18 students but was unable to renew its license for the coming fall. According to Collins, the Tufts administration opposed this action because the university “no longer recognizes Theta Delta Chi as an active fraternity at Tufts.”
Despite this, the administration acknowledges the fraternity’s significance in the community.
“We recognize the important role that Theta Delta Chi has played in Tufts’ history and value the relationships that the fraternity members have developed with each other and the university over the years,” Executive Director of Alumni Relations Ed Ellison said in an email to the Daily. “We intend to work with Theta Delta Chi alumni to ensure that they continue to have a place in the Tufts alumni community.”
Collins added that the university has worked on maintaining a relationship with Theta Delta Chi alumni.
“Our alumni relations office has already reached out to members of TDC,” Collins said. “We appreciate their long-standing connection and contributions to the university and will be working to ensure that they continue to be part of our alumni community.”
Nevertheless, some Theta Delta Chi alumni are upset with the situation.
Former Theta Delta Chi president David Lincoln (A ’52) spoke to the Daily about the legacy of the fraternity and expressed his disappointment with the current closure of the chapter.
“[Theta Delta Chi] has contributed at least four people to the leadership of Tufts University. It’s more than a real estate transaction,” Lincoln said. “[Theta Delta Chi alumni] feel disappointment because that particular fraternity for us was a magic place, a place where we developed friendships.”
According to Collins, if Theta Delta Chi returns to campus as a registered student organization in 2027, the university will consider allowing them to use the property.
“The University is leaving open the potential for the Theta Delta Chi fraternity to again be based at 123 Packard Avenue at some point in the future, provided that the fraternity is reinstated as a student organization in 2027 and remains in good standing thereafter,” Collins said.
For the time being, however, the property at 123 Packard Avenue is set to become a residential hall.
“Negotiations and discussions related to the transaction were cordial and productive,” Collins said.