UBC Fraternity-Police Conflict

Students at one of UBC’s main Fraternity houses are bringing the RCMP to task over allegations of forced entry, seizure, warrantless searches, and even a secret deal between law enforcement and the university to kick the frat students out in time for the 2010 Games.

Tim Laidler, a member of the Alpha Delta Phi Fraternity between 2006 and last May, said that RCMP officers would enter the common rooms and kitchens of the house without warrants, claiming that it was common ground rather than part of a private residence.

“We discovered serious issues regarding the RCMP illegally entering properties without warrants, backroom deals between UBC and the RCMP to start enforcing noise complaints with the hope of evicting the Fraternities,” said Alpha Delta Phi’s former vice-president Ryan Fetterly.

In an email to the Observer, Fetterly alleged that the RCMP, UBC, and the University Neighbourhood Association held a meeting on July 15 and since then three separate noise complaints - of which the Alpha Delta Phi House received one - were issued to the frat houses along Wesbrook Mall.

“I honestly believe that UBC’s endgame is to have us kicked out of campus in time for the Olympics,” said Laidler.

Just three warnings were issued in the last six years prior to July 15, according to Fetterly and Laidler. The latter said that if a Fraternity receives three warnings in a year, eviction can result, while a fourth could see UBC buying back the house.

Matters came to a head for Alpha Delta Phi on July 17, when two RCMP officers entered the house around midnight, asking for one person’s ID before confiscating a stereo system.

Laidler alleged that the two officers swore and shouted at students, adding that when one resident tried tapping a policeman on the arm to get his attention he responded, “Don’t f*ing touch me. I don’t like people f*ing touching me.” The two RCMP officers added that it would take seven to eight months and lots of paperwork for the students to reclaim their stereo.

“As a result of that I contacted BC Civil Liberties and a case worker said that she would attend any further meetings between us and the RCMP.” The stereo was returned after a few days.

When asked why he felt harassed by the police Laidler responded, “The frats feel that the RCMP are unable to police the campus effectively. This is well documented in the RCMP’s own letters to campus organizations, particularly the University Neighbourhood Association.”

Yet RCMP Staff Sergeant Kevin Kenna took a rather different view of the situation, saying that the frat students’ antisocial behaviour blighted the lives of nearby residents.

“We get numerous complaints of noise, drunkenness, fighting, all of that is going on,” said Kenna. What made law enforcement tricky for the RCMP was the lack of anti-noise bylaws as UBC wasn’t an incorporated area.

Ryan Fetterly said that he had a file listing “maybe seven or eight,” complaints in the last year, but that police investigations turned up nothing. He also believed that Kenna was exaggerating the number of fights.

“In my four years on campus I could probably count on one hand the number of fights,” said Fetterly in a second email to the Observer.

“It’s been an ongoing, persistent problem with them,” said Kenna.

All that police had to go on was the Conduct Agreement signed between the Fraternities and UBC. Kenna explained that under the terms of this agreement - to the best of his knowledge - errant frat houses would be warned after the first complaint, hit with an $500 fine on the second, before receiving an $1000 penalty on a third warning. A fourth incident allows UBC to buy back the frat house.

To clarify the details of the Conduct Agreement, the Observer tried contacting UBC’s Director of Student Development Janet Teasdale but she was unavailable for comment.
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