January 20, 2003

Alumni Shut Down Delta Chi Fraternity

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The alumni of the Delta Chi fraternity, founded at Cornell in 1890, shut down the Alpha Chapter in December shortly before winter break. They made the decision to close the chapter because the members failed to pay their dues, which cover insurance, mortgages, taxes and maintenance.

The chapter’s housing corporation, a group of six alumni who own the house, was responsible for closing the fraternity.

Since “Cornell requires each fraternity [to] have a certificate of insurance, [they were] in violation of C.U. regulations,” said David Weber ’68, a member of both the housing corporation and the chapter’s board of trustees. If the housing corporation had not closed the house, they believed that Cornell “probably would have done so sometime in the spring semester,” Weber said.

The housing corporation had considered shutting down the chapter for the past year but did not make a final decision until Dec. 2. The 38 members were informed several weeks later. The housing corporation felt that they chose the most convenient time possible to shut down the fraternity because it allowed the 17 members living there to find alternate housing for the spring semester.

The fraternity members planning to live in the house did not agree.

“[They] didn’t give us enough warning,” said Ryan Kiefer ’04.

Kiefer, who was positioned to be the house’s next president, had hoped that the members could remain in the house as tenants instead of fraternity brothers.

“It was an initial feeling of shock … I didn’t think our opinion of what has happened was really being heard,” he said.

“There was no forewarning … obviously, we’re upset about the house being shut down but to add to that, the manner in which [the alumni forced us to move out] made it that much worse,” said Steven Phillips ’04.

As a result of the closing, the fraternity members scattered mostly among Collegetown sublets as well as the dorms and even other fraternity houses.

Part of the problem was in the fraternity’s decreasing membership.

“Last year it was evident that the fraternity was not doing well in rush,” Weber said.

In the past three years, the pledge class decreased from 17 to 10 to eight. The budget was written primarily by the seniors, the largest class. According to Weber, the budget did not account for decreasing membership and the increasing dues remained the responsibility of underclassmen who were less familiar with house rules and policies.

“It’s pretty clear to us that if the seniors had supported the budget [by also living in the house], this probably wouldn’t have happened,” Weber said.

The future plans for the house include a $2.5 million renovation, although the money is not currently available.

The house will be “renovate[d] a little this semester and then lease[d] out as apartments for the next two years,” Kiefer said.

There is hope that the fraternity will eventually be reinstated.

“It is certainly the hope of the alumni to [reinstate the chapter] but we want to refurbish the fraternity house before we do and it will take … a while,” Weber said.

In addition to the members living in the house, the fraternity subletted several rooms to graduate students on a monthly basis. Those residents will also have to find other housing.

“I was disappointed in the outcome of this whole business,” Weber said. “The sophomores and juniors were affected the most, [but] the people who caused it were the seniors who were already living out, and it bothers me personally that they caused problems for people who did not misbehave.”

Archived article by Diana Lo