Frat House - RCMP Conflict: An End In Sight?
After years of conflict that included allegations of police walking onto Frat house property to confiscate a stereo while threatening and swearing at students in response to noise complaints, an ending may be in sight as both sides come to an understanding.
“Overall there’s been a very civilised interaction between the police and the Frats, at least from my perspective,” said Bijan Ahmadian, who represents the Alma Mater Society on the UBC Board of Governors.
The RCMP have not encroached on Frat village housing since students erected a sign warning that it was private property. “The police seem to be respecting that,” said Ahmadian, adding that they were going about their law-enforcement duties in a more reasonable manner.
Ahmadian has not been in contact with the Frats since last September when they recruited new housemates. Yet he was able to tell the VO that other key sticking points in the Fraternity Village - UBC conflict were closer to resolution.
The maximum legal capacity of any given frat house is currently set at 100 that the residents see as arbitrarily imposed by the police and university authorities. Ahmadian said that this limit would be revised before the Olympics when a report is issued next month. Any new limit will likely be based on building size.
“It gives everyone a conclusive sense of capacity that affects police, liquor licenses, etc,” said Ahmadian, adding that both the RCMP and fraternities deserved credit for building dialogue.
For now it seems like the frats can hold their parties and social events with less bureaucratic hassle or RCMP encroachments on their land, defusing the immediate conflict between the two organizations.
The frat students for their part said that they understood the concerns of their neighbours and would keep noise levels under control.
Yet the root of these ongoing disputes may be more fundamental - and a cause of conflicts across the world - the issue of land.
Simply put, the UBC Fraternity Village shares a small block just east of Wesbrook Mall with apartment blocks, parks, and houses owned by the University Neighbourhood Association and the Acadia Park student residence.
Tim Laidler, an alumnus of the Alpha Delta Phi house, pointed out on a campus map that his old fraternity and other houses were just off Wesbrook Mall opposite the Thunderbird Park and sports complex, stretching in a thin north-south line along the block between Agronomy Road and Fairview to 16th Avenue.
Directly east of the Alpha Delta Phi houses lay Acadia Park residence, UBC accommodation geared towards students with children seeking a quiet place to live. Also adjacent to Laidler’s old house are the Berwick Memorial apartments owned by the UNA which anyone can rent, student or not.
Just south, across a driveway that could be seen from the window, was the RCMP station. This places the Alpha Delta Phi house at the very epicentre of a dispute stretching back some three years, according to Laidler and his friends.
Also lying south of the RCMP station is the sprawling Hampton Place development, another UNA-owned residential complex.
This certainly doesn’t look like a conflict prone area. On the day the VO visited last October, a quiet rain was falling on the attractive new houses and tastefully designed low-rise apartments. The few people outside went about quietly, although the Alpha Delta Phi residents were doing up their lounge for a social event that evening.
Nothing seemed out of the ordinary in this typical student neighbourhood framed by the tall pine trees of Pacific Spirit Park a few minutes walk away.
The inhabitants however have not always lived together happily, but there was for the first time a hope that improved relations between the Fraternities and their neighbours will build confidence and understanding between the two sides.
It’s only after studying the campus map when anyone can realize that a block occupied by the RCMP, Fraternities, and non-student residents living cheek by jowl can cause serious tension without proper management or agreement.
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