UA VP Forced To Leave SimmonsBy Brian C. Keegan
Three students have had their housing privileges at Simmons Hall temporarily revoked as a result of their involvement in a party at their dormitory on Oct. 9.
Undergraduate Association Senator for Simmons Hall Andrew T. Lukmann ’07 said that the decision to remove the students from Simmons came from Housemaster John M. Essigmann in cooperation with members of the administration. He said that the decision was made that “the three individuals needed to be removed from Simmons immediately,” though no formal charges have been made.
Essigmann declined to comment on the identities of the three students, though Lukmann said that one of the students who has been temporarily removed from Simmons is UA Vice President Phillip A. Vasquez ’05.
Victoria H. Hsu ’08, UA Senator for Simmons and a resident of the hall where the party was held, said that she had seen Vasquez setting up for the party. “I saw him at the party,” Hsu said. “I knew he was involved.”
Lukmann said that this incident “doesn’t show anything about [Vasquez’s] leadership abilities.”
Vasquez did not return request for comment, and UA President Harel M. Williams ’04 declined to comment on the matter.
Student panels want bigger role
The Committee on Discipline and the Division of Student Life are moving forward with a formal investigation into the Oct. 9 party at Simmons Hall.
“It seems there are public safety concerns that are sufficiently serious to warrant a hearing,” said Professor Margery Resnick, Chair for the Committee on Discipline. “However, we will know more after a full investigation is conducted.”
Representatives from both the Undergraduate Association and the Dormitory Council expressed concerns that the MIT administration was moving forward with judicial decisions concerning students without consulting student representatives.
Dormitory Council President Ian Brelinsky ’06 said that he believes the administration should encourage students to seek help in difficult situations instead of worrying about the possibility of disciplinary action.
Undergraduate Association President Harel M. Williams ’05 said he is concerned that the administration has not sought the advice of house governments and dormitory judicial committees.
“If the judicial policies and processes don’t come from students, they’re just not as effective,” Williams said. “It is much more transparent having your peers adjudicating these policies in these situations. At least then you know the decisions won’t be coming out of a black box.”
Williams said the UA is working with DormCon to improve orientation programs concerning the dangers of alcohol and to increase awareness of how to register parties and host responsible and safe events.
Both Brelinsky and Williams said that the judicial relationships between student governments and the administration panels need to be clearer and more explicit.
“I would like to see more delineated procedures for handling situations like this. That way students know what to expect and there is less confusion in the future,” Brelinsky said.
Resnick said that for many disputes, the COD chooses not to become involved and instead lets the issue be dealt with locally by student panels Until the investigation into this event is completed, the COD and DSL will not take any action.
Associate Dean for Substance Abuse Daniel Trujillo and Associate Dean for Student Life Programs Barbara A. Baker could not be reached for comment.
Residents upset about meetings
Essigmann said that members of the Simmons Judicial Committee suggested mandatory community meetings to raise awareness and work out a local solution, which Essigmann forwarded to Dean for Student Life Larry G. Benedict, and a compromise was reached.
Though the meetings are designed to take the place of MIT-imposed social probation and other punishments, many students feel that they are unfair to involve residents who don’t party or drink.
“I wasn’t even here for the party, but now I have to spend my time at these meetings,” said Indranrita S. Deshmukh ’08.
“The mandatory meetings are so unfair,” said Daniel B. Chonde ’07. “The event was planned to be big. It was right outside my door. There were loud and obnoxious kids messing up our floor. They were just there for the booze. They weren’t my friends and I didn’t recognize most of them.”
Kristin A. Falciglia ’08 said that she doesn’t believe that the mandatory meetings will change residents’ perspectives. “The party scene is just going to get smaller and go back underground and into people’s rooms,” she said.
Solutions not easy
The current Simmons JudComm policy states that the host of a party is required to obtain approval from Simmons’ JudComm and assumes responsibility for restricting access only to invited guests.
Many Simmons residents feel that this is unfair to hosts who cannot control the actions of their guests when the party grows too large.
“I recognize that MIT is combating a growing campus problem and that steps need to be taken to ensure the safety of students while protecting the dormitory community and its social atmosphere,” Brelinsky said.
Williams said he wants the UA to clarify the enforcement rules and let the house JudComms handle the situation so that MIT Police and Housemasters don’t have to get involved.
Marissa Vogt contributed to the reporting of this story.