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COD votes to expel Howitt

By Jeremy Hylton

After a February hearing, the Committee on Discipline recommended that Andrew W. Howitt G, a former Senior House graduate resident tutor, be expelled because of his conviction on drug-related charges, according to several student sources. Howitt refused to comment on his case.

COD chairman Sheila E. Widnall PhD '60 would not discuss the case. Institute policy prevents her from disclosing information about individual students' cases, she said.

President Charles M. Vest must review all recommendations for expulsion. "He has not made a decision as yet. He is still reviewing the case," said Carol Y. Belgrave-Best, administrative secretary in the Office of the President. She said she did not expect a decision for a few weeks.

Howitt was convicted on charges of possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute in Cambridge District Court on Dec. 11 of last year. He was sentenced to two years probation and 50 hours community service.

Howitt, a fifth year graduate student in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, was suspended as the Holman entry tutor at Senior House in July, when allegations that he had supplied students with drugs first surfaced.

According to the student sources, the COD's recommendation for expulsion carried the condition that he not be allowed to reapply for admission to MIT for at least seven years.

Howitt may appeal the COD's recommendation, but the sources at Senior House did not know if he would. Professor of Biology Vernon M. Ingram, who served as Howitt's faculty counsel at the COD hearing, said he had not talked with Howitt in an official capacity since the hearing.

Howitt had been suspended from attending classes for some time before the COD hearing. He did not register for classes this term, according to Arthur C. Smith, dean for student affairs.

An acquaintance of Howitt's, Bruce A. Grossan G, said, "He took it very, very hard." Grossan said that, as a fifth-year graduate student, Howitt had invested a great deal of time in his thesis. Now, he said, "the thesis is pretty much down the tubes."

The Institute has treated Howitt as a scapegoat, Grossan said. It is a widely held view among Senior House residents that the Institute made Howitt a scapegoat in the aftermath of the death of David M. Moore '91, who fell from a fifth-floor Senior House balcony last July. According to several sources, Moore was under the influence of LSD when he fell.

Grossan said, "I don't see the administration doing anything constructive." He added, "expelling a grad student is regressive in every way.

"There are many constructive ways of dealing with this issue and the university doesn't seem to have pursued a single one," Grossan said. He also said that the Institute has not asked Howitt to go through drug awareness programs or if he understood the effects his actions might have had on Holman entry residents.

Grossan also thought the Institute should be willing to reinstate Howitt if he changes his habits or if he "tries to repair whatever effects his supposed drug use has had on his students."

Grossan said he expects Vest to follow the COD's recommendation for expulsion. He said he had "[no hope] whatsoever."