Two Face Arson ComplaintsBy David D. Hsu
Associate News Editor
On Jan. 13, Adrian B. Danieli '97 and Peter H. Tsang '95 faced arson complaints at a Third District Court magistrate's hearing. A MacGregor House fire in late November prompted the Campus Police to file the complaints.
The two residents of MacGregor's C-entry used isopropyl alcohol to draw a pentagram design on the carpet, according to a witness statement to the Campus Police made by Eric L. Gravengaard '96, chair of C-entry. Gravengaard was the only witness.
The alcohol was lit on fire and the flames reached 3 to 4 feet high, but were extinguished by Danieli and Graavengard, according to the statement.
Damage is estimated at $150, said MacGregor House Manager Robert T. Ramsay Jr.
The incident was brought to the attention of the Campus Police on Dec. 14, according to a Jan. 23 Cambridge Fire Department Arson Squad memo. The squad investigated the incident the next day.
"The burns in the rug were still plainly visible and were covered over by a couch," according to the memo.
Because of the incident Danieli and Tsang were forced out of their rooms at the end of the fall term, said a C-entry resident who requested anonymity.
At the Jan. 13 magistrate's hearing, the magistrate clerk "made the determination that there was probable cause for the [Campus Police] complaints," said the memo.
The clerk ordered Danieli and Tsang to write "a comprehensive statement regarding the seriousness and ramifications of these types of incidents," according to a Jan. 13 arson squad memo. The clerk also said that "Eric Gravengaard is not to be harassed by them or any of their friends, etc. relative to his coming forward in this matter."
If Danieli and Tsang are involved in no further incidents, the complaint will be dismissed on May 27 when the hearing closes, said Chief of Campus Police Anne P. Glavin in a memo to Dean for Undergraduate Education and Student Affairs Arthur C. Smith.
In the memo, Glavin said the Campus Police is charging both students with a "violation of Institute regulations."
Gravengaard, Danieli, and Tsang refused to comment, as did MacGregor House Master Stephen J. Lippard PhD '65.
Residents feel charges are harsh
A petition expressing support for Danieli and Tsang was signed by many C-entry residents including Gravengaard, MacGregor President Anand R. Radhakrishnan '96, and Vice-President Jonathan G. Hsiao '96.
Residents felt the two students had no malicious intent. "I think they had everything under control. The smoke alarm didn't even go off," said another C-entry resident, who also requested that his name not be used.
The first resident criticized the handling of the incident. "With this case, it's ridiculous," he said. Danieli and Tsang "didn't even hear about it until two months later."
"I think they should be charged with the cost of repairing the damage," said the second resident. "There's no real harm done other than that."
However, the Campus Police are not taking the fire lightly. "The reckless act jeopardized the safety and well-being of some 350 students in MacGregor House," Glavin wrote in her memo.
"I think we handled it the way we should," Ramsay said. "I think we're not using common sense when we play games such as this."
As a result of recent fires at MacGregor and Burton-Conner House, safety measures have been increased, said Associate Dean for Residence and Campus Activities Margaret A. Jablonski. There has not been an arson incident since the beginning of December, she said. "We hope students take seriously the issue of fire safety," she said.