Future of the ATO house is unclear

MIT to seek Fall 2011 opening after renovation

For the better part of the winter, a couch and two mattresses have marked the location of 405 Memorial Drive, the fenced-in property sandwiched in-between Kappa Sigma and Delta Kappa Epsilon. Upperclassmen will remember this now-shuttered house as the former house of Alpha Tau Omega (ATO) — the fraternity expelled from MIT in September 2009 — but new plans are being developed for a possible fall opening. Before anything happens, the house will require extensive renovations that are not expected to be completed until after this summer.

Currently, 405 Memorial Drive is under the ownership of MIT and managed by the Department of Residential Life and Dining, which is beginning the process of finding new residents. Henry J. Humphreys, senior associate dean of residential life and dining, said that “considerations at this point are definitely sororities that do not have a house yet or fraternities or sororities that are looking to move from the Boston side to campus.“ However, this goal is not certain, as the house is also being considered for general student housing and transitional housing. The house can accommodate about 50 students.

Assistant Dean for FSILGs (Fraternities, Sororities, and Independent Living Groups) Marlena Martinez Love is currently beginning to develop an application and selection process through which FSILGs can apply for house occupancy. At this point in time, nothing has been set in stone.

According to Humphreys, the top priority for the Department of Residential Life is to make all the necessary repairs to 405 Memorial Drive “in order for it to be up to a standard that MIT has for its residential facilities.” He had originally hoped for the house to be reopened this fall, but this plan may not be possible. Over the next month, more details concerning MIT’s plans for the ATO house will be released, including a timeline and the application process for FSILGs.

Humphreys stated that renovating the house is a costly project because work needs to be done on the roof, windows, bathrooms, kitchens, plumbing, electrical wiring, fire safety systems, and even the exterior (repointing of the brick) of the building for it to be habitable. Humphreys attributed the extensive damage to the fact that the building “was not maintained as well as it should have been.”

ATO lost their housing license in summer 2008, when the Cambridge License Commission revoked it after a pipe leak caused extensive water damage. After numerous hearings with the Commission, the fraternity was granted another license in June 2009, but only six people were permitted to live in the house.

The past few years have been rough for ATO; after a series of violations involving underage alcohol consumption and the burst pipe, the fraternity was ultimately sanctioned by the Interfraternity Council and expelled from MIT. ATO is ineligible to reapply to be a fraternity at MIT until Aug. 27, 2019.