Former Sig Ep building will house Thought Project LLC

by Jennie Rhodes | 6/28/19 2:20am

by Sydney Gillman / The Dartmouth

When members of the Thought Project Living Learning Community return to campus this fall, they will not be moving to their expected housing in the McLaughlin Cluster. Members of the LLC will have been relocated to 11 Webster Avenue for the 2019-20 academic year, the building which housed Sigma Phi Epsilon Fraternity until it was placed on probation last fall. Thought Project members were informed of the news on Monday in an email from dean of residential life Mike Wooten.

College spokesperson Diana Lawrence wrote in an email statement that this move is the result of an unusually large incoming class of ’23s.

“The Dartmouth admissions office has experienced an unprecedented surge of interest from prospective students,” Lawrence wrote.

The College received more than 50 students over the number expected, according to Wooten. 

“While the College has significantly reduced the number of offers made to applicants in recent years in order to maintain the entering class size, demand has exceeded our expectations,” Lawrence wrote. 

The College will be accommodating incoming ’23s using beds in McLaughlin that will be available following the Thought Project’s move, as well as converted lounge spaces in other first-year residence halls, according to Wooten. All other Living Learning Communities will remain housed in the McLaughlin Cluster. 

In fall 2018, Sigma Phi Epsilon Fraternity’s national board of directors suspended the Dartmouth chapter’s charter for two years following an investigation which revealed ongoing violations of a nation-wide alcohol probation issued by the fraternity, according to Lawrence. She said that following its closure, the alumni and volunteer corporation established a two-year lease agreement for 11 Webster Avenue during the time in which the organization’s charter is suspended.

“The College supports the Sigma Phi Epsilon national organization’s desire to elevate standards for their chapters and is working with the national organization’s leadership and the Dartmouth community to plan for a successful return of the chapter in 2021,” she said. 

According to the email from Wooten, the relocation will provide Thought Project students with a free-standing facility of singles and doubles, a kitchen, designated quiet study space and social space.

According to Thought Project student coordinator Kos Twum ’21, students have had mixed reactions regarding the relocation.

Naina Bhalla ’22 who will be living in the Thought Project in the fall said she was looking forward to the move.

“I actually really like the location and think it’ll be really convenient for me,” Bhalla said. “The alternative for me was the Lodge. I’m happy to just have avoided that in the first place.”

 Twum said that some students were disappointed.

“People have grown to like McLaughlin and its set-up,” she said. “It was really nice to have Occom Commons for Food for Thought dinners and other events.”

From a student advisor’s perspective, Twum said that she is ambivalent regarding the move.

“It is strange because we are now on frat row, but don’t exactly fit with the other houses,” Twum said, noting that some students seek out LLCs as alternative social spaces away from Frat Row.

Students also expressed concern regarding noise due to the house’s location.

“The only thing I’m worried about is noise on the weekends and other people coming in to use the bathrooms while they’re on Frat Row,” Bhalla said. 

Jamir Pleitez ’19 who lived in the building his sophomore winter through his junior spring as a member of Sigma Phi Epsilon, said that he does not believe it will be noisy. 

“Since Sigma Epsilon members aren’t allowed to live there anymore, it will probably be super quiet,” he said. 

Regardless of the location of the Thought Project students, the community is happy that they are still living together, according to Bhalla. 

“We have a really cool group of residents who I know are going to make it work and have fun with it,” Twum said.

Bhalla is a member of The Dartmouth Staff.