This post is the first in a small series of reflections on the recent events on campus, to be published over the next few days. If you have anything that you would like to contribute, please feel free to reach out to us.
I am writing this in response to the traumatic and overwhelming events that have happened over the past few days – the hospitalization of a dozen students and the arrest of four others, as well as the media and institutional reactions. I hope that this can be a space of positive dialogue and solidarity, where we share our thoughts and reflections with compassion and humanity. I hope to counter the intense and destructive negativity and inappropriateness of some of the language being used to address these events in our own community, in person and online, in the media portrayals and in the administration’s emails. These events remind of us of the importance of fostering a supportive community, one that we must build on our own, as the student body. These thoughts hope to help support that process of reconciliation, healing, and empowerment.
Public Safety has had an interesting year at best. First alleged racial profiling during homecoming weekend, then allegations of Public Safety assaulting a Wesleyan student, and in January, an officer was fired for allegedly stealing equipment from faculty offices. This was followed by today’s email (see below) in which two Public Safety officers were involved in viewing and possibly video recording a female student in her residence. The two offending officers have since been fired. According to an email from Dean Mike Whaley, Wesleyan “is cooperating with Middletown police in an ongoing investigation.”
Following last semester’s forum, President Roth ’78 had an independent review look into Public Safety’s current practices and relationship with the University. Tonight, from 7 p.m.-8 p.m. in the Daniel Family Commons (third floor of Usdan), you can attend an open student session and meet with the representatives of the independent company conducting the review, Margolis Healy. It’s some pretty strikingly appropriate timing, considering today’s email report.
Watch a student-produced documentary about recent tensions involving Public Safety here.
Date: Tuesday, April 30 (today)
Place: Daniel Family Commons
Read past the jump for the full email.
As I was sitting in Olin at about 8:05 on Sunday night, minding my own business—which was, at the time, a Physics problem set—a loud, authoritative voice broke the usually monastic silence of the second floor. Initially, I was pretty annoyed. I’m having enough trouble applying Kepler’s laws of planetary motion without your help, you selfish jerk. Come on—THIS IS A LIBRARY!
As I stewed in my anger, I realized that this wasn’t a case of a couple of idiots talking too loudly—this was something serious. I got up and walked over to the door from the second floor stacks to the stairwell, where the commotion was. When I saw a group of three or four Public Safety officers standing over a young man in a chair, I stopped worrying that my laptop would be stolen in my absence, and my Wesleying blogger’s instinct took over: I started eavesdropping.
The officers were grilling the guy who, at this point, I thought was a student. They wanted him to take them to his car. However, the man seemed to have ‘forgotten’ where he had parked it. Then, they started to ask about a silver digital camera. Apparently he had been taking pictures of something he shouldn’t have been. By now, the man, an average looking guy, was hunched over in his seat. When he spoke, his flat, unexpressive voice delivered short, terse sentences. He sounded trapped.
As issues of race and diversity come to a head on campus, a disturbing account of a Public Safety assault on a student has emerged. As you may be aware, Paulie Lowther ’13 was found at the Freeman Athletic Center on Tuesday, October 30, and charged with criminal trespass and breach of peace. After being released from custody, Lowther, who is African-American, was diagnosed with a concussion.
Accounts of what transpired during the encounter vary.
According to the Hartford Courant, which sources its information from the police report, “Lowther tried to run away from public safety officers when found at 12:10 a.m.” Police say he appeared drunk when taken into custody. (Lowther says he was under the legal limit.) Public Safety claims he refused to identify himself and fled when found.
Wesleying Editor Zach Schonfeld ’13 visited Lowther’s house on Fountain earlier this week to get his side of the story.
According to Lowther, he was invited to a pool party in Freeman on the night of Tuesday, October 30th, which was during Hurricane Sandy. He entered through the side door, which had been propped open by the organizers of the party. When he arrived, other students were in the pool. Before joining them, he got in the sauna.
When in the sauna, “[he] heard a bunch of people yell ‘P-Safe’ and a lot of running.” He decided to not run. A female Public Safety officer arrived. Staying in the sauna, he told her his Wes ID number and that he was a student. The officer “said it didn’t match anything on file,” according to Lowther.
Happy first birthday, Occupy Wall Street! The movement to repair social and economic equality in America began one year ago today, when the initial occupation began in Manhattan’s Zucotti Park. A small coalition of Wes students was there that first week, with extensive Wesleying coverage appearing here and here. In the year since, Wesleyan has seen on-campus occupations, alumni (and presidential) perspectives, coverage by Ezra Silk ’10 and Rob Wohl ’11, academic discussions, student arrests, aborted Radiohead concerts, and quite a bit more.
Appropriately, a handful of Wes students are in New York right now, joining in the festivities. According to Reuters, over 100 protestors have been arrested, with at least on Wesleyan student reportedly among them. Resident livestreamer and bearded social media journalist Ben Doernberg ’13 has been livestreaming the experience all day, and you can follow along above or on U-Stream.
For more on the #OWS anniversary, here’s ongoing coverage from Slate, The Nation, and the New York Times.
Memo: just because we have a sexuality magazine on campus doesn’t mean your hallmates want to be covertly photographed while taking a shower. A Wesleyan sophomore learned this unfortunate lesson today and was promptly arrested, according to a Public Safety alert fresh from your inbox:
At approximately 8:30 this morning, Public Safety and Middletown Police responded to a complaint from a student that another student had covertly taken pictures of her while she was in the shower. The alleged incident took place at a student residence on High Street. As a result of the investigation, the accused student was arrested by Middletown Police and has been removed from campus pending a judicial hearing.
Both Middletown Police and Public Safety consider this an isolated incident. The University is not releasing further details in order to maintain the privacy of the individuals involved. A report will appear on the Campus Climate Log later this week.
If you’re currently in the Boston area, do take note and keep on a lookout. We recently got a write-in from Eliana Theodorou ’12 informing us about the unfortunate circumstances of Franco Garcia, a 21-year-old Boston College student who has been missing for a few weeks now. She writes:
Franco Garcia, a BC student and friend of someone I went to high school with, has been missing since February 22. His friend, family, and police are requesting that anyone who may have any information related to his disappearance help out with the search. Though most Wes students were probably in Middletown at the time of his disappearance, many are likely in the Boston area for break. If anyone knows or hears of anything that could be helpful to investigations at all, please contact the Newton Police at 617-796-2100 or Massachusetts State Police at 617-727-4812 or call local police or 911.
Garcia was last seen on Feb 22 around 12:15 am at Mary Ann’s Bar. Since that time, police say Franco has not attended any classes at Boston College and has not shown up for work. His vehicle is still parked at Boston College where he left it on Feb. 21. Franco also works at one of the CVS locations in Waltham and has not appeared at work, nor contacted anyone. His family and friends are extremely worried and ask the public to please help look for Franco.
Garcia’ family has set up a website to serve as a hub for information. Click here
More information can be found from The Huffington Post, here and here. Further info can be found here.
Itemized information about Garcia’s last known whereabouts and physical appearance after the jump.
If you haven’t had the chance to check your email (because, come on, who reads email anymore?), take note:
Middletown police are searching for a patient who left Connecticut Valley Hospital on Wednesday morning without authorization.
A spokesperson for the state Department of Mental Health & Addiction Services said Adam Rattiner, 37, left the hospital around 10:30 a.m.
He is described as white, with salt and pepper hair, hazel eyes, 5’9″ inches tall, weighing 219 pounds. He was last seen wearing blue jeans, a blue shirt and a Yankee hat.
This individual has been previously arrested on the Wesleyan Campus; anyone with any information should call Middletown Police at 860-344-3200 or Wesleyan Public Safety at 860-685-2345.
Though it is uncertain “whether Rattiner was a court-committed patient” (pesky privacy laws), according to the MiddletownPatch (yeah, I don’t really know what that is, either) “he was not under the jurisdiction of the state’s Psychiatric Review Board, which oversees patients deemed criminally insane by the courts.”
Police were recently sighted making the rounds in Olin. In other news, PSafe should really invest in a twitter account…
Police chief: “In one room they found about 18 kids and in that room was a wastebasket that they said had about a foot of vomit in it.”
Wesleying is sending its NESCAC solidarity up to postcard-perfect Waterville, ME. More than four dozen Colby students will be needing it after this bust.
In what seems like a nightmarish record in recent college history, 56 Colby students (that’s over 3% of the student body) are facing alcohol charges and on-campus discipline action after on off-campus party Saturday night. The three students living in the party venue, meanwhile—residents of an apartment at 116 Winter St, whose names I’m not including in this post—were arrested and “charged with providing a place for minors to consume.” All 56 are expected to appear Waterville District Court on December 6. As for the leak, these details from the Kennebec Journal:
The summonses were issued after an officer stopped a car on Gilman Street around 8 p.m. Saturday and the driver identified herself as a Colby student, according to [police Chief Joseph] Massey. The officer smelled alcohol on her and asked where she got it; she said she had been at the Winter Street party, Massey said. She was summoned for illegal possession of alcohol by a minor, he said.
Some rather lurid news in our fair city from the Middletown Eye blog:
The Middletown Police Department’s Narcotics Unit along with the Special Investigations Unit initiated a warrant sweep to combat the quality of life issues in Middletown, specifically in the North End of the city where the sale of narcotics has severely diminished the quality of life for the Middletown citizens in that area.
In total the officers were looking to serve a total of 27 narcotic arrest warrants for 19 suspects. Eight of the warrants were for five people that were already incarcerated. A Habeas will be issued so that the warrants can be served in court.
More details and info on specific arrests here.