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CLC Hears Case on Simmons Incident

By Kelley Rivoire


The Cambridge License Commission held a hearing last night regarding underage drinking during an unregistered party held at Simmons Hall on Oct. 10 last year. The CLC will make a decision on a possible disciplinary action against Simmons in the next several weeks, and the severest possible punishment would be the revocation of Simmons’ housing license.

David A. Nedzel ’07, Simmons president and Dormitory Council Judicial Committee chair, said he thought the hearing went well and that the steps taken regarding the incident were well represented to the CLC.

Simmons Housemaster John M. Essigmann called the hearing fair.

CLC expresses concern

Among the main concerns of the CLC were the lack of dormitory security that allowed such a large number of people to enter the dormitory unnoticed in a short period of time, and whether the serious nature of the incident was made clear to Simmons residents.

“It appears that the only thing that attracts attention is a tragedy; ... no one ever makes the news when a plane lands safely,” CLC Chair Benjamin C. Barnes said.

Daniel Trujillo, associate dean for Community Development and Substance Abuse Programs, recommended to the CLC “continuing the education process,” which “would be very valuable to support Simmons’ efforts.”

CLC Interim Director Richard Scali said he recommended that Simmons be a leader in the training of students in all dormitories.

Simmons makes changes

Essigmann and Ian Brelinsky ’06, president of DormCon and former president of Simmons Hall, spoke to the CLC about the measures taken by Simmons since the incident.

By the end of this week, five cameras will monitor the dormitory; previously, two cameras were located at the back of the building with a third by the dumpster, Essigmann said. In addition, all exterior doors will have alarms to bring attention to any doors propped open, which will limit entry.

At the request of the Simmons Hall government, mandatory community forums were held to allow residents to discuss the importance of drinking responsibly and registering parties, Brelinsky said.

He said that the Simmons government has taken the incident as a mandate for more education awareness programs, which are currently in draft form. DormCon has also created a new risk manager position, Netzel said.

The consequences faced by three students involved in the party “varied from person to person,” but were “not a slap on the wrist”, said Essigmann.

The specific punishments are confidential due to the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act, said William M. Fischer, associate dean for student conduct and risk management.

Details of incident discussed

The incident began as the twentieth birthday party of a Simmons resident, but the hosts ended up with “way more than they bargained for,” said MlT Police officer Sean C. Munnelly, who investigated the incident.

Essigmann said that between one and two a.m., approximately 100 people arrived for the party via two side doors that were propped open, violating Simmons rules. One of the hosts, realizing the party had gotten out of hand and unaware that police had indeed been called, told the residents that the police were coming in order to “disperse the crowd,” wrote Essigmann in an e-mail.

As the students vacated, they ran down ten flights of stairs in a “stampede,” which Associate Housemasters Muriel and John Medard referred to as “one of the most terrifying things they have ever seen” according to Essigmann’s e-mail.

Mulnelly said that a “lot of empty alcohol bottles” were present, and the lights were dimmed with paper.

Following the incident, the housemasters discussed the events with the Simmons government, and the case was determined to be “sufficiently dangerous” to be referred to the Office of the Dean for Student Life, Essigmann said. The Simmons government could have pursued a parallel investigation, but instead chose to focus on the community forums, he said.