The Tech - Online EditionMIT's oldest and largest
newspaper & the first
newspaper published
on the web
Boston Weather: 23.0°F | Mostly Cloudy

Twehey Revises Order to Evict 6 From Dorm

By Brian Rosenberg
Editor in Chief

Six MacGregor residents received a last-minute reprieve from an order requiring them to move out of MacGregor by Dec. 1 for performing a variety of "inappropriate behaviors," the most notable of which was throwing water balloons. While two of the six will have to move in January and two others remain under investigation, the others will be allowed to remain in MacGregor.

The six students received letters in the third week of November informing them they would have to move out of the dormitory. In response to the order, they met with Dean for Residence and Campus Activities James R. Tewhey, Dean for Undergraduate Education and Student Affairs Arthur C. Smith, and several other administrators. The students felt these meetings had little effect, however.

Tewhey said he changed his decision to move the students when "some additional information became available to us on Nov. 30, ... primarily through students involved in the situation."

John K. Dorton Santiago '94 was one of those students. "I admitted to throwing one water balloon, but I also told [Tewhey] I had stopped when I received a complaint about it."

Jose E. Ledesma '94 also said he met with Tewhey on Nov. 30. "I said that I was involved, but I didn't say to what extent. I think [Tewhey] has the impression that I threw a balloon, but in fact all I did was fill one up," he said.

Ledesma also emphasized that the balloon-throwing incident was provoked. "We were watching TV, and we heard someone say, `Vigilantes suck!' or some similar taunt. We didn't know who said it, but we did know where it came from, so we threw the balloon that way," he said.

Santiago and Ledesma each received another letter from Tewhey on Dec. 1. This letter said that "timing requires that you be out of the dormitory by Jan. 8," according to Santiago.

Tewhey explained that the deadline for the move was changed because the end of the semester was approaching. "Anytime we set a date for somebody moving out of a house, we try to set one that is reasonable, that interferes with the person's education as little as possible," he said.

However, Ledesma and others said that their semesters had been severely affected by the action. "It's been really hard to get any work done," he said.

"I've had this hanging over my head for more than a month, and it's really affected my term," said Avik S. Roy '93, one of the students who will be allowed to stay in MacGregor.

Tewhey said that the new circumstances mean that the evictions of Santiago and Ledesma have become a disciplinary action. Tewhey would not comment on whether any record of the measure would be placed in the students' files.

Others are allowed to stay

A letter sent to Christopher B. Council '94 and Douglas M. MacBride '94 said "the requirement that you move out of MacGregor has been rescinded," according to Council. The letter also said that an investigation of the allegations which had been brought against the two was continuing and should be completed by the end of this semester. The letter continued, "If you are found guilty of some or all of the infractions being investigated, we reserve the right to require you to move from MacGregor," according to Council.

Tewhey said the remaining investigation would center on "a couple of issues that have been raised, and there are names tied to those issues. In addition, one individual has intimated that he or she has specific allegations against another individual, and we're waiting for that to develop."

Kip A. Bishofberger '95 and Roy received letters stating that they would be allowed to remain in MacGregor. "I am sorry for any inconvenience this process may have caused you," the letter said.

`More injustice than justice'

"I'm glad I'm off the hook, of course, but this whole situation still concerns me," Roy said. "I think this whole thing has been handled very inconsistently... Tewhey seems to be shifting from one group to another group to a few individuals, and each time he changes, it only confuses whatever he's trying to accomplish. ... I think more injustice has been done than justice," Roy added.

Santiago said he thought his actions, which he described as throwing one water balloon during the first week of classes, did not merit a punishment as severe as having to change his residence. "It was [thrown at] the lounge window, and I didn't know there were people living there," he said. "When the light came on, I didn't throw any more," he said.

"I don't feel that throwing one water balloon should merit kicking someone out on the basis of harassment -- it's not a strong offense that deserves such a strong punishment," he added. Ledesma expressed a similar sentiment.

Tewhey responded by saying, "In the more than 500 cases I've handled, I can only think of one person who came back and said he thought the disciplinary action taken against him was fair. Not many people who get sanctioned are going to be happy about it."