Tag Archives: fountain incident






MPD report on Fountain incident now available

The Middletown Police Department’s report on the Fountain incident has been released. An MPD press release announcing the completion of the department’s investigation notes that it concluded that “the officers were faced with what they described as a large, unruly and hostile crowd,” and, as a result, “the officer’s [sic] use of force was ‘objectively reasonable’…to effect these arrests, to prevent injury to themselves and others, and to prevent escape.”

It also notes that the improvement of communication and development of a better relationship between Wesleyan and MPD is key to ensuring that this does not happen again. The full report is 66 pages long and contains a thorough summary of the night’s events, the arrests, the call for assistance, and the written complaints.

MPD press release (PDF)
Complete MPD report (PDF)

[EDIT: I didn’t notice this at first, but it looks like all student names have been removed from the MPD report. If you see a blank space whenever students are mentioned, it would appear, based on context, that it is a redacted student name. -Ben, 12:57]

WSA Releases Fountain Ave Policy Recommendations

The WSA’s recommendations in response to last May’s incident on Fountain Avenue have been adopted by the Assembly and are now available on the WSA homepage. The WSA will use these recommendations as a starting point to work with the administration to make improvements to University policy. Real change is possible, and we will work to make it happen.

Here is a direct link to the recommendations: http://www.wesleyan.edu/wsa/legislation/fountainrecs08.htt

The Wesleyan Student Assembly

The WSA’s recommendations include a broad range of policy suggestions on issues such as social event registration, handheld cameras, and Public Safety protocol in dealing with violations of the Code of Non-Academic Conduct and calling MPD.

The recommendaitons also put forth ideas for educating students on their rights and responsibilities, improving relations between students and the community (including Public Safety and MPD), and creating safe social spaces on campus.

WSA Fountain Avenue Policy Discussion Tomorrow

Tomorrow afternoon there will be a critical opportunity to have your voice heard on campus policy issues.

The WSA has created a commission to review all campus policy in order to prevent the recurrence of incidents like Fountain Ave. The commission needs your input!

All students are urged to attend this discussion, whether you have specific proposals, broad ideas, or just want to listen. The discussion will help set the agenda for the WSA’s Fountain Ave Policy Commission, which is charged with drafting specific proposals for changes to campus policy.

Don’t miss this critical opportunity to speak out on campus policy.

What: Fountain Ave Policy Discussion
Where: Daniel Family Commons, 3rd Floor of Usdan
When: Tuesday, 4:30PM
(Disclosure: Poster is WSA VP)

Deja Vu: Anti-Wes-student comments from community re: Fountain

Possibly this discussion is tired by now, but an anonymous tipster points out the emerging comment discussion on the latest Courant article about the Fountain incident. Most of the comments seem to revolve around how we, as Wesleyan students, are over-entitled, privileged, whiny brats who only want to party and don’t deserve to be in college (or gain the status associated with having attended such a college). I quote the first comment by “Wesleyan Embarrassment” as an example:

It is utterly absurd that a “student leader” at any university would not understand that part of growing up and becoming a contributing adult is to be able to recognize unacceptable, childish, and unruly behavior — not to mention that this student leader is unable to recognize that it is outrageous to engage in middle-school-like antics such as throwing beer bottles at police cruisers, houses, and people.

The primary problem you have at a very-leftist university is that a disproportionate number of the rowdy participants think that they are subject to a different standard than everyone else. This condition is exascerbated by an enabling university administration that is afraid to enact and invoke even the most modest standards of control and enforcement.

When UConn students threw beer bottles at police cruisers, people, and otherwise misbehaved; they were arrested — and later expelled from school.

On the other hand, when Wesleyan students — on a public street — throw beer bottles hitting people on porches, hitting police cruisers, smashing debris, etc., these students instead expect to be treated by a different standard — involving huge bureaucratic policies outlining what constitutes unruliness when a Wesleyan student is involved.

The problem with being a trust-fund, spoiled brat is that it clouds reality — not just in the present, but for life.

What I think is an intelligent response from a Wes student:

I would like to respond to these comments as a current senior at Wesleyan.

I think it is important to start by saying that I do not believe Wesleyan students were completely in the right during the incidents on Fountain Avenue. The report that a beer bottle was thrown at a police car is certainly inappropriate and inexcusable. I also believe that the Middletown Police serve a vital job in our community and should come when they are called by Public Safety or any other Middletown resident. I resent the mentality of many (but certainly not all) Wesleyan students who argue that Middletown Police have no right to be present on our campus.

That being said, I feel the need to express discomfort and sadness at the blatant resentment of and disrespect for Wesleyan students that is displayed in these postings and written in this article.

The Courant article writes: “When students refused to disperse after being asked to by Wesleyan public safety officers, the officers contacted Middletown police. Students reacted to the increased police presence by throwing bottles and getting more unruly, prompting city police to request support from state police and police in Cromwell and Portland. After the incident, Wesleyan students claimed the police used unnecessary force in dispersing them.”

This quotation leaves out many important elements of the incident on Fountain Avenue. Never did the Courant article mention that police came with K9 units, whose dogs viciously mauled many students, more than one of whom was sent to the hospital. The article did not mention that multiple Wesleyan students were pepper sprayed and tazed by the police in attempt to get them to move off of their own street.

This was not a riot. It was not a protest or a giant drunken keg party with people jumping off roofs and fighting in the streets that needed to be violently broken up by police officers. I feel that it is very important for that to be understood. It is one thing for police to respond to a call and try to clear a party, it is another to unleash dogs on a crowd and pepper spray individuals standing in front of their homes.

To write that Wesleyan students “claimed” that police used unnecessary force in dispersing them delegitimizes the students and assumes that their side of the story is only a claim and thus false. By mentioning beer bottles thrown at police and never mentioning how the police chose to retaliate, Peter Marteka shows his disinterest in representing the full story for his readers.

The Fountain Incident is incredibly complex. It cannot be boiled down to finger pointing and a discussion of right vs. wrong and spoiled Wesleyan students vs. violent police. I would hope that as one of Connecticut’s most well respected newspapers, the Hartford Courant would be able to see that. I also would hope that its readers wouldn’t be so quick to judge Wesleyan students by an offensively written article and their own judgments of the Wesleyan community.

We are all residents of Connecticut. If this incident has showed us anything, it is that we need to learn to bridge the gap between what we expect from each other and how we try to get it. Poorly informed articles and verbal hatred from one group to the other, one both sides, is not the answer.

I personally think that what this points to, more than anything else, is a continued lack of ideal relations between Wesleyan and Middletown and the rest of the surrounding Connecticut community. I don’t know about the rest of you, but in my three+ years here, I’ve grown to really love this city. How do we begin to repair – at least, from our side – this broken relationship?


Fountain Incident Report: A Work in Progress

The Hartford Courant interviewed WSA President Mike Pernick ’10, who says (obviously) that the report issued by the Fountain Avenue Working Group this week leaves a lot of room for improvement:

...”Right now, there is no written university policy dictating when, why and how Middletown police are called onto campus,” Pernick said.

Isn’t that kind of the main concern? The Argus reports:

“I expect to gather the members of the committee to seek their input as we review our policies and operations,” Roth wrote to The Argus. “I will also be speaking with the Middletown Chief of Police and the Mayor about the report and the status of their investigation.”

…“The Fountain Avenue Report was an important first step,” Pernick wrote. “It laid out the facts of what happened and established an agenda for moving forward. But it is only the beginning of our work. What happened on Fountain last May must never happen again.”

…With these ideas in mind, Pernick will propose a resolution for a WSA commission on September 23 that would work to enact substantive policy changes in the aftermath of the Fountain Avenue incident.

Here’s hoping that some more concrete proposals are laid out next week.

Courant: Wes Student Leader: Report Doesn’t Go Far Enough
Argus: Looking Back, Moving Forward
Wes Homepage: Fountain Ave. Group Report (pdf)

6 Police cars + k-9 unit + psafe breakup peaceful fountain party

Roughly 30 students were peacefully enjoying musical stylings of Barefoot Junction outside 40 fountain today when psafe, middletown police, and a k-9 unit showed up. Is this the end of Fountain as we know it? Is wesleyan the new police state? Certainly something has changed at our wonderful university. If anything tonight is an unfortunuate allusion to the end of spring semester in ’08.

Please comment with any first hand acconts or corrections.

[EDIT] Jared Keller of Barefoot Junction writes:

We as a band do not know the specific details of the event, only that we were cut off mid-set by the authorities. We do not know why Middletown police showed up in the numbers they did. What we do know is that Wesleyan students behaved like champions tonight, allowing P-Safe and MPD to do what they had to despite how overly cautious and obnoxious their actions were. The best thing that Wesleyan students can do right now is give the authorities no legitimate reason to repeat last May’s incident by being orderly and responsive to their demands, and tonight’s party was a good example of the strategy we can use to avoid further ridiculous conflicts.

That being said, Fountain is far from done and Barefoot Junction will live to groove another day. Our resolve is strong, Ph.D program multiple credits, and our funk reserve brimming with vigor and zest. Contact us at jbkeller@wes for a funk injection. And remember: we shall return…

[Edited by Justin on 2008-09-12 at 12:48 AM.]

Official Fountain Incident Report is Imminent

Dean Mike just announced via email that a full report on last semester’s Fountain Avenue incident (remember that?) is almost complete and will be released in the next few weeks.

The report has been developed by a working group chaired by Dean Mike, and is supposed to outline the major issues regarding the incident and make recommendations about how to deal with them in the future:

Once he receives the report, President Roth will again meet with Middletown police and civic leaders to discuss the findings. It seems clear that local and campus officials as well as the Wesleyan Student Assembly will all be critical players in resolving the many issues that this incident has illuminated.

Definitely something to keep an eye on this semester.

To refresh your memory (and let new Wes students know), here is all our past coverage of what happened: [the Fountain incident]