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Bexley residents warned about roof

By Andrew L. Fish

and Annabelle Boyd

The Office of the Dean for Student Affairs increased the fine for trespassing on the Bexley Hall roof from $50 to $500. The increase, which was revealed yesterday, was prompted by a June 3 incident, in which two Molotov cocktails were thrown from the Bexley Hall roof into the alley behind the building.

A letter from the Residence and Campus Activities Section of the ODSA said that while sanctions had been imposed on the student who threw the cocktails, "the community of a house bears some responsibility in establishing behavior within that community and towards its members." The letter, signed by Senior Staff Associate for Residence and Campus Activities Andrew M. Eisenmann '75 and Assistant Dean for Student Affairs Stephanie Harriston-Diggs, concluded that "given the nature of this incident, that responsibility has not been accepted by the house."

William Orme-Johnson, Bexley's housemaster, said a number of students were on the roof when the incendiaries were thrown. "It became apparent during the hearing that MIT held on the incident that these people were members of Bexley," he said.

Harriston-Diggs said the pitching of the Molotov cocktails off the roof represented "inappropriate and unacceptable behavior."

"Students at Bexley knew the roof was off-limits, and someone should have intervened before things went so far."

MIT has longstanding rules banning students from the roofs of Institute buildings. But the restrictions have been loosely enforced, and residents of Bexley and several other dormitories frequently use their roofs for barbecues and parties. The fine for trespassing on the roof was increased seemingly to add teeth to the rule. The fine for trespassing on the Green Building also was raised to $500 last January because of persistent trespassing problems.

Shortly after the hearing on the incident, the Housing Office constructed partitions on three of the four accesses to the Bexley roof, and put a lockable grating on the fourth entry, so workmen could still get to the roof, Orme-Johnson said. Residents of the house have since destroyed the partitions, Johnson said.

"Bexley will be holding a meeting on Thursday to discuss the roof, and it is very likely that the house will be charged a goodly amount of money by the Dean's Office," Orme-Johnson said.

Some residents were upset that the roof was blocked off without consulting them, Orme-Johnson added.

In addition to the $500 fine, any student caught on the Bexley roof will have "to explain why the privilege of living in MIT housing should not be revoked," according to the letter from the Dean's Office.

The Molotov cocktail incident is only the latest in a long history of disputes between Bexley and the ODSA. Most have centered on Bexley's inability to attract freshmen during Residence/Orientation Week -- the result, some say, of deliberate actions of the part of the dormitory's residents. Last year Associate Dean for Student Affairs James R. Tewhey threatened to make Bexley a single-sex women's living group unless it improved its rush procedures. Tewhey also wanted offensive graffiti removed from the Bexley basement because of its impact on rush. In 1985 then Associate Dean for Student Affairs Robert A. Sherwood suggested that Bexley be used as a house for the Alpha Phi sorority because of its poor rush.