To many students, living off campus implies freedom from the rules and regulations of living at Occidental. But this is not the case for the men of ATO.
The residents of the house have been under siege by ResEd and Campus Safety for the past three months. After two conduct meetings, due to noise complaints from neighbors, the majority of the house is now on probation until May 2015. According to the residents, they are one strike away from the threat of suspension and the possible withholding of their diplomas. The ATO house is a cornerstone of life at Occidental and the occupants do not deserve the drastic consequences the college is threatening.
A stigma wrongfully exists around the house due to unsubstantiated rumors about the house itself and the football team, which have become almost synonymous in recent years. The residents, however, generally move in and out within a year and thus current residents should not be held responsible for issues of years past.
“ATO has had three parties this semester,” ATO resident Parker Johnson (senior) said. “That is one a month. It is easy to see that by having parties one night a month, ATO is not destroying neighborhood relations alone.”
This year in particular, both students and the administration should rethink any negative presumptions they hold toward the residents. At least half of said residents work on campus and one is a former student body president. These men are not filled with malicious intent to disturb the peace.
The residents of ATO also add to campus life, helping to compensate for Occidental’s limited party scene by hosting all-inclusive gatherings. In the past, anyone would be welcome to walk in the house and enjoy the music and company on a weekend night. However, with threats to their status as Occidental students, they have had to employ a guest list to help contain the noise level, which eliminates the all-inclusive, welcoming element of the house.
One planned party and one celebration after a win has left the men of ATO at risk of not graduating. The residents have tried to comply with the school by controlling the amount of people at their house and taking preventative measures, but to no effect.
“We’ve hired bouncers, placed people outside the house to limit the crowd, shut the party down by midnight,” ATO resident Teran Mawhinney (senior) said. “We’ve accommodated Campus Safety, but now they’re just telling us we’re done.”
The residents of ATO see no resolution for their conflict with the school, as the administration seems unwilling to compromise. The residents even organized a meeting of their own accord to discuss solutions, yet felt as though they were not disrespected by administration and staff. According to the residents present at the meeting, even the chief of Campus Safety refused to take them seriously, directing his attention to his cell phone the entire time and referring to ATO as a “pimple on the ass of the college.”
It seems that no other off-campus house deals with the same levels of austere treatment from administration, nor is subject to the same harsh consequences.
“The college treats residents of ATO worse than they treat the residents of fraternities and sororities off campus,” Johnson said. “The administration is attempting to make an example out of our home and we are caught in the crossfire.”
Although it may seem that the men of ATO are simply looking out for the sake of their own well-being, they do not stand alone. The birth of the hashtag #saveato in light of recent events shows what every student knows to be true—there is a larger community that cares about the fate of the house. As ATO remains a pillar of the party scene at Occidental, the residents are not the only ones punished when the house is placed on probation.
With the end of the season last Saturday, the senior football players of the house should be able to celebrate the end of their college careers. However, with Big Brother always watching, something as harmless as playing music while showering might be cause for suspension for these unlucky men of ATO.