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Baker House Party Results in Citations

By Susan Buchman

Five students are facing disciplinary proceedings following an unsanctioned party in Baker House Jan. 21 that ended with a false fire alarm and a review of Baker's lodging house license by the Cambridge Licensing Commission.

According to Baker housemaster William B. Watson, it appears that a partyer intentionally pulled a fire alarm.

"A party was going on in a couple of roomsŠ and we have an understanding that parties should shut down at 1 a.m.," Watson said.

When the party extended beyond the deadline, the night watchman called Watson to inform him of the problem. Watson instructed the watchman to shut down the party. After the party was shut down, an unknown person pulled a fire alarm.

Although it is unknown why a guest of the party would pull the alarm and draw attention to the underage drinking, Watson said that the motivation might have been anger.

"A fair number of [the partyers] were not Baker residentsŠ and I think they were angry" that the party had been shut down, Watson said.

Intentionally pulling a fire alarm is a misdemeanor, said Cambridge Police Department Captain Henry Breen.

According to Watson and Dean of Students and Undergraduate Education Rosalind H. Williams, the Committee on Discipline has not yet set a date for the hearing.

Baker has hearing before CLC

The Cambridge Licensing Commission, which issues and controls Baker's lodging house license, held a disciplinary hearing Tuesday evening at the commission's office.

Campus Police Lieutenant Stephen D. Joiner said the campus police responded to a fire alarm that was activated at 1:25 a.m. The night watchman mentioned to the CPs that the alarm might have been pulled as a result of the party that he had ended on the fifth floor. The officer at the scene went to rooms 501 and 511 and found empty beer cans and cases of beer, but the occupants were not present. The CP then issued six level one citations for violation of alcohol policy.

Phillip M. Bernard, program director for residential life, said that the five students cited were currently involved in the Baker disciplinary process and had been "required to attend a two-hour education [session] on the use and abuse of alcohol."

Breen said that he hoped the police take "proactiveŠ not reactive" involvement curbing dangerous behavior because "we don't want something serious to happen."

Watson said the residents of Baker "work hard to build a strong sense of community" and "incidents such as this are rare."

Cambridge Fire Chief Kevin Fitzgerald reminded those present that drinking is not the only issue. "Public safety is the primary issue," Fitzgerald said.

The commission met yesterday morning to decide on a course of action. Executive Officer Richard Scali said that the commission has decided to postpone adjudicating the issue until MIThas completed its disciplinary proceedings. "We asked [Co-director of the Office of Government and Community Relations] Sarah E. Gallop to report back and we'll make on decision then," Scali said.

Also present at the meeting were Dean for Student Life Margaret R. Bates; Kenneth F. Winsor, Baker house manager; and three Baker House residents.

Baker reconsiders policies

Although Watson could not comment on the disciplinary proceedings, he said that Baker House is developing a set of guidelines for residents who wish to hold parties. The guidelines would distinguish between parties held in individual's rooms, lounge areas, and the dining hall.

"We're trying to facilitate people having fun without stepping on each other's toes," Watson said.

He said that he is talking to students to "bring them to an understanding of what their responsibilities are."

The current draft of the guidelines is before the Executive Committee of Baker House and will probably be voted on at the next house meeting. However, because the guidelines are non-binding, Watson said he is unsure whether the guidelines have to be voted upon to exist.

The false alarm is the second major incident at Baker in five months. In October, a 20-year-old Simmons College student was taken to Massachusetts General Hospital early Saturday morning after allegedly consuming alcohol at a party in Baker House.

The student was found vomiting in a fourth floor bathroom at approximately 1:30 a.m. Campus Police were notified, and after finding her ill but conscious they called an ambulance. She was taken to MGH, where she was treated and released, said Kenneth D. Campbell, director of the News Office.

According to sources at Baker House, alcohol was served at the third floor party, with a number of underage people drinking.