Massacre rumors scare students
By Joey Marquez
In response to continuous rumors that a massacre would occur "in an L-shaped dormitory" on Halloween night, Campus Police increased patrols and added extra shifts last night to reassure students that they were protected, said Capt. John Driscoll.
Driscoll said there were no plans to station officers at either MacGregor or Senior House, but that the interior and grounds of those dormitories would be checked. He added that the Campus Police called dormitory presidents to provide details of what was being done and suggested that students call the Campus Police immediately if anything happened.
Driscoll added that the Campus Police were "truly focused on this story."
Many similar, but not identical, versions of the story have circulated among students in recent weeks. The rumors all centered around the idea that a massacre would occur on Halloween at an L-shaped dormitory along the river in the Boston area. Students concluded that either
Senior House or MacGregor was the intended target.
Students identified two possible sources for the rumor. One attributed the prediction to a psychic on The Oprah Winfrey Show. Linda Simon, a spokesperson for the show, told The Boston Globe yesterday that "there was never anyone on the show that predicted" anything like the rumor.
Another version held that a prophet had made the prediction 50 years ago. The Globe reported that similar rumors surface every five to 10 years around Halloween.
Most students did
not take rumor seriously
Senior House President David W. Hogg '92 said that "most people aren't taking [the rumor] seriously," but added that "there are certain people that are quite worried." Those few are taking no chances and are spending the night elsewhere,
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MacGregor House President Jay M. Goodliffe '92 said that only a few people knew about the rumor, and that those who did know were not taking it seriously. "We're not awaiting any ax murderers," Goodliffe said.
MIT's concern focused on the reaction to these predictions rather than the possibility of their fulfillment. "There is, however, a possibility that the prophecy's exposure in the media will encourage someone to play on this fear to ruin other peoples' Halloween," wrote Eliot S. Levitt, staff assistant for residence programs, in a memorandum sent to housemasters and graduate tutors.
Levitt said that the only thing to do is to "keep your eyes open," and that it would be "far more helpful to be watchful than to be an alarmist."