As a result of the decision of the Board of Municipal and Zoning Appeals on Tuesday, Hopkins has lost one of its precious few remaining fraternity houses. Of course, we are extremely disappointed by the decision. The students were railroaded by neighbors who pounced on a technicality in order to purify their area of an annoyance that predated their own residency. Cityofficials were complicit in Phi Kappa Psi's eviction. So was the University.
It is nothing short of shameful that the University never played a role in this process. Both the Tuscany-Canterbury Neighborhood Association and the Phi Psi brothers hoped that the University would weigh in. But the administration persisted in the farcical notion that this matter did not concern them.
Indeed, off-campus housing is not regulated by the University, but Hopkins students do not cease their affiliation with the institution when they leave its grounds (the dozens of yearly mailings seniors will soon begin receiving from the alumni association are proof of that). So long as we are paying more than $30,000 to go to this school, it is not too much to ask the University to show some support for students wronged by the city and its residents.
Not only did the University let its students down, it damaged its own reputation. This dispute does not reflect well on Hopkins, which showed as much contempt for student life as did the TCNA and its allies in government in pursuing a course of total inaction. If the University does not care about its own students, who will we be able to count on? Surely not Salem Reiner, the Director of Community Affairs. If a matter such as this one is not within his purview, then what on Earth is? What is the explanation? Weak will? Spite, perhaps?
We realize that the University walks a fine line when it comes to the independence of students. We don't want University officials too involved in our personal lives. But this was not just a house. It was directly associated with an entity that is already regulated by the University. And surely the administration realizes that vibrant Greek life is a resource that adds value to the school by taking the burden of social events planning off the shoulders of the University itself and also serving as an attractive feature for many potential applicants.
Alas, the damage is done, so we must now attempt to do something positive to prevent its happening again. It was grossly unfair and a severe breach of ethics to remove the brothers from their house, but we know that if a similar situation were to occur, the students of Johns Hopkins would once again be left to the whims of money-grubbing politicians, without an advocate or recourse. The best solution appears to be the one supported by both students and the surrounding community.
That, of course, is a designated area for fraternity houses -- a fraternity row. We argued for such a resolution on this page last week and we continue to do so because it is a necessary measure for the protection of student welfare. The hole the stalled Olmstead project has left in Charles Village is begging to be filled.
Short of that, a few protests might be in order. Perhaps the Tuscany-Canterbury neighborhood has not yet heard quite enough noise.