Alumnus arrested, jailed afet breaking windows
By Andrea Lamberti
A mentally-ill graduate of MIT smashed most of the lower windows in Lobby 7 with a metal pipe yesterday at approximately 3:40 pm.
Two individuals outside Lobby 7 stopped Lawrence J. Dunn '83 while he was breaking the windows and the windows in four of the six doors, witnesses said. Minutes later, Campus Police officers arrested Dunn.
Dunn was charged with malicious destruction of property over $250, breaking windows in a building, and disorderly conduct, Campus Police Chief Anne P. Glavin said. Dunn, currently in the custody of the Cambridge Police, will be arraigned in court tomorrow.
The former biology student had performed similar acts of vandalism Wednesday night, according to Associate Dean for Student Affairs Robert M. Randolph. Dunn had broken windows in the same place with a piece of metal, and those windows were fixed yesterday morning.
Dunn was arrested Wednesday night, and arraigned in court yesterday morning. Approximately ten minutes after the court released him yesterday, he attacked the windows again, Randolph said.
"They fixed [the windows] this morning; I guess that really irritated him," Randolph said, as a possible explanation of Dunn's actions. In a conversation Wednesday evening, Dunn told Randolph that he was going to break the windows.
According to Randolph, who said that Dunn's motive was "not rational at all," Dunn told him "they'll never listen, they'll never listen, they'll just never listen, so I'm going to break the windows."
Randolph informed the Campus Police of Dunn's intentions, but by the time they arrived at the scene, Dunn "had broken the windows," Randolph said.
Illness began in
According to Randolph, Dunn has been mentally ill for some time. He has been "in and out of the hospital, [and] in and out of treatment," Randolph said. Dunn has been living at the Pine Street Inn, a homeless shelter in Boston.
Recently, since his arrival in the Boston area about 18 months ago, Dunn "has been harassing a number of people at the Institute through the mail," Randolph added.
"The harassment has been a concern of the community for some time. It's been particularly focused" on people in the Department of Biology and the Whitehead Institute, Randolph said.
"The harassment has not been threatening up to this point," he added.
Dunn represents "one of the dimensions of homelessness," Randolph explained, because he is "not sick enough to be in a hospital, but not well enough to function."
According to Randolph, Dunn's mental illness began to affect him when he was in graduate school at the University of California, Berkeley, in the Department of Molecular Biology. He worked for some time after that, and he returned to the Boston area about 18 months ago.
One witness said that while Dunn was hitting the windows, he "seemed very angry at the institution; from his expression, he definitely looked very angry about something."
"I hope that he'll be committed for observation in a state hospital, [and that] he'll get some help, basically," Randolph said.
By Naomi Strubel
About 50 students are enrolled in SP02 this semester, the second in the two-term SP01/SP02 sequence that combines general chemistry, solid state chemistry and biology. About two times that number were enrolled in SP01 last fall.
The faculty approved the experimental sequence last spring, citing the rising importance of biology. The two-term course will be taught for two years, at which time its feasibility for conversion to the Institute core curriculum will be evaluated. If approved, it would replace the one-term chemistry requirement and add an extra term to the Science Requirement.
The Committee on the Science Requirement is "quite happy with what [it has] seen," of SP01/SP02, said Hartley Rogers Jr., chair of the committee.
Regarding the drop in enrollment from the fall to the spring, the professors teaching the course speculated that SP02 was crowded out because there is a tendency among second-term freshmen to start taking classes in their majors, and that limits the number of "extra" classes they can take.
SP01 is accepted for the Science Requirement in chemistry, and SP02 is accepted as a Science Distribution subject.
A preference from
The professors teaching the course, Ronald M. Latanision of the Department of Materials Science and Engineering, Vernon M. Ingram of the biology department, and Robert J. Silbey of chemistry, were hoping to draw students from both Principles of Chemical Science (5.11) and Introduction to Solid State Chemistry (3.091), for a more even split between students majoring in science and in engineering.
Currently, students intending to be engineers are encouraged to take 3.091, while those intending to study biology or chemistry take 5.11.
However, enrollment in 5.11 dropped by about 100 last fall, indicating that most of the students in the SP01/SP02 sequence were more interested in science than engineering.
Students who take 5.11 often go on to take at least one biology course, and the professors teaching the class had hoped to give more engineers some exposure to biology, according to Melinda L. Glidden of the Undergraduate Chemistry Office.
A foundation for
Two-thirds of SP01/SP02 consists of material which joins the basics of 5.11 and 3.091. The other third incorporates General Biology (7.01) lectures from previous years.
According to Latanision, SP01/SP02 is intended to be a foundation from which students can go on to studies in any field.
Because students presently take only one chemistry class, some feel they are not fully exposed to the varied aspects of chemistry. "It never made any sense to me. It seems to me that [students] need both [5.11 and 3.091]. We should do away with the artificial division between materials science and chemistry," said Ingram.
Ingram was also concerned about teaching molecular biology to students who had only taken 3.091. If students do not have the background, although "we can define a gene operationally," it must be discussed in terms of "black boxes . . . and I don't like working with black boxes," he said.
SP01/SP02 is "not a replacement of 5.11, 3.091, and 7.01 precisely; there will always be topics not covered," Silbey said. There will be "no problem," however, with the preparation the class will give students for future studies, he felt.
All three professors stressed that the course is not too diluted to be rigorous. "[We wouldn't teach it] if we really thought it had inappropriate depth for a core course," Latanision said.
Many in the biology and chemistry departments, however, have criticized the experimental course for what they perceived was a watering down of introductory biology and chemistry.
The biology department restructured 7.01 this year. It is a kind of "independent proposal for what might be a biology requirement," Rogers said. "There's no reason that [a] biology requirement couldn't have several options to it," he added.
The revised 7.01 incorporates a broader range of subjects, including ecology, mammalian physiology, and plant molecular biology.
The aim of SP01/SP02 has been to show the similarities and emphasize the connections between what are apparently different disciplines. For example, in a discussion of structure determination, commonalities between the geometries of a crystal of gold and a molecule of hemoglobin were stressed.
Other connections include linking chemical kinetics and thermodynamics with enzymatic reactions, and redox reactions with action potentials in neurons.
By the end of the two-term sequence, students will be permitted to take courses that have either 5.11 or 3.091 as prerequisites. It was suggested that students taking Organic Chemistry I (5.12) after only SP01 read some additional material on their own.
The biggest problem students saw with the course was in the "seams" between one discipline and the next. Students saw that "ideas may have been related, but it was not always clear how they were related," said Julia N. Stowell '93.
The professors agreed that the rough edges were the biggest problem, but were confident that by next year things could be smoothed over.
A few students in SP01/SP02 thought that people dropped the course either to take difficult classes in their major on pass/no credit, or because they were intimidated by the biology they would study in the second term.
The lectures containing biology in the first term gave very complex examples, and students worried whether they could handle what was to follow, although introductory material was taught in the second half of the course.
Despite the problems of adjusting to a course "the first time it's offered," Rogers felt that "they've done quite well" with SP01/SP02.