DU house shut down due to health concerns
Rumors swirl about interfraternity conflict after fire alarms set off
Published: Tuesday, March 9, 2010
Updated: Tuesday, March 9, 2010 07:03
Brothers from Delta Upsilon (DU) fraternity found themselves homeless after the City of Somerville's Board of Health on Sunday shut down their house in response to health concerns.
Allegations and rumors have surfaced about what set off the early Sunday morning fire alarm that triggered the inspection and possible retaliatory action later in the night.
Board of Health inspectors were called in by firefighters from Somerville Fire Department who were responding to an alarm that went off while the house was having a party.
According to Tufts University Police Department (TUPD) Sgt. Robert McCarthy, firefighters were concerned about the state of the residence.
He said that upon arrival, the health inspector found that the smoke detectors were covered, and there were holes and mold on the walls and trash throughout the house. One of the walls on the third floor was also torn apart, and the front door was broken off its hinges. Additionally, the third-floor bathroom's stall door had been removed from its hinges.
These findings prompted the board to shut down the house indefinitely, forcing the brothers to find alternative residences.
Junior Alex Ross, president of DU, said that a lot of the disrepair observed by the inspector was due to the ongoing party, including the removed front door and the trash. He added that the mold was the result of water damage over the winter when the pipes broke.
Ross alleged that a member of another fraternity pulled the fire alarm that triggered the fraternity's evacuation.
"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," he said. "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."
Rumors have surfaced that an Alpha Epsilon Pi (AEPi) brother pulled the alarm at DU and that the fire alarm that went off at the AEPi house later that same night was pulled in retaliation. Ross declined to comment further on this.
Sophomore Abe Stein, president of AEPi acknowledged the rumors. "I've heard rumors that DU pulled our fire alarm, I don't know if that's true or not," he said. "I've also heard people saying that AEPi pulled the alarm at DU; I've heard that from people outside the fraternity."
He said that he did not know the truth of the rumors but expressed his doubts that his fraternity was involved.
"I'm positive that if somebody from AEPi did it, it has nothing to do with the rest of the members of the fraternity," Stein said. "I can't say for DU, but I highly doubt that somebody in AEPi pulled the alarm there. We're a bunch of pretty mature guys, and I don't think anybody would have done that."
Senior Sam Pollack, president of the Tufts Interfraternity Council, said that the events of early Sunday morning were not unusual.
"Things like this happen, and there's always a lot of speculation and rumors," he said. "This time is particularly notable because one of the houses … had structural issues."
Pollack explained that it is unlikely that further action will be taken, stressing that allegations have mostly been speculation.
"I'll probably address it with all the presidents," he said. "Honestly, it's all speculation, and I have no reason to believe that anyone from any of the houses was involved. But I want to make sure we're on the same page that such things don't happen again."
DU brothers are currently awaiting clearance from the Board of Health to move back into their house and have in the meantime found alternative accommodations.
According to McCarthy, they have to pass a re-inspection of the house. "They're going to have to get someone to fix all the problems," he said.
Ross said that work is already underway to resolve the outstanding issues. "I talked to the Somerville Board of Health [yesterday] morning, and they gave me a list of things we need to get fixed before people can move back in," he said.
He has already arranged for the repair of the holes and the door and is awaiting an estimate from a cleaning service for removing the mold.
Pollack expressed his regret about the situation and the conflict. "It's just unfortunate that it happened … hopefully it doesn't happen again in the future."
Corinne Segal contributed reporting to this article.