Indiana Daily Student

Alpha Tau Omega evicted from house

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On Friday afternoon, the day the former brothers were evicted from their house, the parking lot of the former Alpha Tau Omega fraternity house on Third Street was filled with moving vans, furniture and angry students. As one moving van pulled into the parking lot, a student in an ATO sweatshirt leaned out the back, sarcastically addressing the crowd of parents, former fraternity members and other students.

“Hello, everyone,” he said. “We are homeless.”

The former members of ATO have been evicted from their house. It has been one month since their charter was revoked by ATO national headquarters following the release of a sexually explicit video involving about half of the fraternity’s 140 members.

The fraternity was shut down Oct. 8. Since then, the former members have 
continued to live in the house.

Delta Alpha of ATO Inc. an alumni board of directors for the IU chapter of ATO, owns the house and was responsible for the decision to evict the residents of the house. After weeks of deliberation and legal consultation, Kent Miller, the president of the board of directors, released a statement Thursday announcing all current tenants of the house would have to leave by the end of the school day on Friday.

The residents of the ATO house did not take the news well. They took their time on move-out day, with many students still packing things into trailers and cars late into the afternoon. Most were silent and scowling as they packed up their belongings. Students still inside the house leaned out windows and raised their middle fingers at the people standing outside.

For the past month, former ATO members have refused to comment on the closing of their fraternity. The news of the eviction finally prompted one member to speak up.

“Sure, maybe there should have been some consequences, but I don’t think this was handled proportionately,” James Newsome, a sophomore and former member of ATO, said Friday as he was moving out. “We weren’t treated the way we should have been.”

Miller and the rest of the board of directors initially told the tenants of the house they would be able to stay in the house for the remainder of the school year, despite the closing of the fraternity, Newsome said. Two weeks later, Newsome said Miller returned to the house with a lawyer who told the students they had 10 days to vacate the premises. When Miller was contacted to confirm this chronology, he declined to comment.

Newsome is sleeping on a friend’s couch for the next six weeks until he finds more permanent housing for the spring semester.

“Ten days is a pretty short time to find a new place to live, especially in the middle of the semester,” Newsome said.

The chapter’s board of directors and the national headquarters of ATO had no input on where the students moved after they left the doors of the house, Miller said.

“They are students with no affiliation to us, and it is totally their business where they go now,” Miller said Thursday, 
before the students moved out. “We have no say in where they live.”

The board of directors did, however, contact the IU property management and relocation department to help the students find new housing for the rest of the year, Miller said in his statement. The assistance came in the form of two emails sent to students and parents with contact information for on-campus housing as well as apartment complexes in Bloomington, said Steve Veldkamp, assistant dean of 
students.

I don’t think we have had any requests for on-campus housing, which would be difficult anyway because we are very full on campus this year,” IU spokesperson Mark Land said.

As the students scattered, leaving the last remaining symbol of their fraternity behind, the future of the house remains uncertain.

The board of directors could rent or lease the house to another fraternity, sorority or other student organization. The new tenants of the house must live there as part of an organization recognized and registered by the University, in accordance with city zoning requirements, Veldkamp said. Other guidelines for choosing an organization to live in the house are left to the discretion of the board of directors.

“There is no bidding war for unhoused fraternities to take an empty house,” said Louis Rothstein, the vice president of risk management for the interfraternity council. “Whoever runs the housing corporation has the final say when it comes to that.”

There is also a possibility ATO will eventually return to IU and resume residence in the house. In the past, charters have been taken away from IU fraternities that returned to campus within a few years, Rothstein said.

Miller and the board of directors declined to say whether they planned to rent out the house. They said they are hopeful for the future of the fraternity in their 
statement Thursday.

“It is the hope of this chapter’s vast number of alumni, as well as their alumni board of trustees, to someday recolonize this 100-year-old chapter and bring them back as proud ATO members to the IU campus,” Miller said in his statement.

In the meantime, the house sits empty and silent on Third Street. For the first time in weeks, the lights are not on. The doors are chained shut. The neon “OPEN” sign from the front of the house was packed into the backseat of a student’s car. The IU chapter of Alpha Tau Omega is, at least for now, closed.

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