Resident members of the Delta Upsilon fraternity at Tufts University were forced to find alternative accommodations this week after the Somerville Board of Health ordered the historic building vacated because of health and safety hazards.
City health inspectors were called to the campus by the Somerville Fire Department, which responded to a pulled fire alarm at the house early Sunday morning, according to Jackie Rossetti, deputy director of communications for the City of Somerville. Upon their arrival, inspectors found the front door disconnected from its hinges and broken windows and screens smashed in the front yard. Trash and other health hazards were found within the building, Rossetti said.
Students were asked to vacate the premises and had not moved back
into the building as of Wednesday, Rossetti said. Inspectors will need
to revisit the building to ensure proper repairs and cleanup take place
before that happens, she said.
“We're really pushing and working with them and making sure it's
livable,” Rossetti said of the city's partnership with the building
manager. “Having doors and windows be broken is obviously a huge
concern because anyone from the community could enter the building.”
According to reports, the fire alarm was pulled during a party taking place at the house, which is located on 114 Professors Row. Reached by e-mail, Delta Upsilon student president Alexander Ross declined to comment. Senior Sam Pollack, president of the Tufts Interfraternity Council, said students had been instructed not to comment on the situation after an article appeared in the Tufts Daily.
"So, we were having a party Saturday night; at some point during the party the front door came off its hinges, which was obviously a bad sign,” Ross told the Tufts Daily. “Later, someone from another fraternity pulled our alarm; when that fire alarm got pulled, some of the fire department people came to make sure everything was alright.”
Tufts University hosts 11 fraternities and five sororities. According to its website, 13 percent of undergraduate students take part in Greek life on campus.
According to Tufts spokeswoman Kim Thurber, The Delta Upsilon house is owned by the fraternity's "house corporation," not by the University.
“It will be up to the fraternity or the house corporation to determine how repairs will be paid,” she said in an email. “The University will not be paying for such repairs.”
Fraternity house owners are required to renew their lodging house license with the City of Somerville every August, Thurber said, at which point the houses are inspected.
Dean of Student Affairs Bruce Reitman is looking into the incident and will meet with the fraternity chapter president this week to see if further action is needed, Thurber said. Tampering with fire and life safety equipment would be considered a serious violation of school policy, she added, referring to reports that fire alarms were blocked in the building.
Rossetti said Sunday's incident isn't something the city has to deal with on a regular basis.
“I'm sure that it's not frequent,” she said, “but it probably has happened in the past.”