From: "Joe Klimek"
Subject: FW: Issues at Holy Cross
X-Priority: 1 (Highest)
X-MimeOLE: Produced By Microsoft MimeOLE V5.00.2314.1300
Alumni please take the initiative to raise the attached article as a point
of discussion with your undergraduate members.
Please remember to mark December 6th at 7:00 as the next Greek Alumni
Council Meeting. Good luck to all of your houses as rush gets underway over
the next few days.
From: Pakstis-Claiborne, Tracey [mailto:tpc@WPI.EDU]
Sent: Thursday, October 28, 1999 11:01 AM
Subject: Issues at Holy Cross
Here is a copy of an article that was in last Sunday's T&G. I have heard
through the grapevine that WPI is on the radar screen with the WPD as the
next school they are investigating (possibly with an undercover, underage
female.) I am meeting with IFC and the Presidents this Friday to discuss
and prepare for the big Halloween weekend. Could you please send this out
to the alums to keep them informed, as their undergrads may be speaking with
them about this. The meeting is Friday at 5:00 PM in Morgan A if any alums
would like to attend. I'll talk to you later!
Tracey Pakstis-Claiborne, M.Ed.
Assistant Director of Orientation and Student Activities
Worcester Polytechnic Institute
100 Institute Road
Worcester, MA 01609
'Tougher enforcement' sought
Sunday, October 24, 1999
By Mark Melady
Telegram & Gazette Staff
WORCESTER-- The image of Holy Cross College
students being handcuffed and hauled off to the
lockup in police wagons has provoked cheers from
their College Hill neighbors, disbelief from the
students, and anger from their parents.
Now, it has the college raising a white flag of
"I hope we can get some type of moratorium
on multiple arrests," said a beleaguered Jacqueline
D. Peterson, vice president for student affairs and
dean of students.
But the parties might give out before the police
"Kids are afraid they'll get arrested for
the street," said Steven Koup, a Holy Cross senior
from Buffalo who lives on Woodward Street with 11
roommates scattered over three floors.
Weeks after the crackdown began, students
are complaining of wrists cut from handcuffs and
bodies bruised from being jostled in the police
"They don't have seat belts in those things,"
said one student. Another said a Holy Cross football
player, in his underwear and on crutches from an
injury, was ordered into the wagon.
"He wasn't even drinking," Jennifer Sobrino, a
"Did we walk across the street with an open
container or commit murder?" said Alyson
Macomber, a junior soccer player from Northbridge.
"What's going on here? We're not bad kids. I've never
been in trouble before in my life."
Such remarks, however, do not find a
sympathetic ear with residents, some of whom say
the arrests have proven the only remedy to a
longstanding tradition among students of being
disruptive. And there are indications that the hard
feelings won't soon disappear.
The dispute, which has drawn in politicians
and a variety of others, is being felt in many ways,
from College Hill all the way to City Hall.
Sobrino and Macomber live with three other
female students in a building at 926 Southbridge St.
that has 21 apartments. After a visit by a Public
Health Department inspector earlier this month, the
students received a letter from the city saying their
apartment was only approved for three residents; two
students had to be out by the end of October, it
"We know five women lived here the last three
years, so why all of a sudden is it illegal?" Sobrino
Students and college officials, and some
residents, share a suspicion that the arrests -- about
80 over the past two weekends -- were a local
version of the "October Surprise," a political tradition
in some cities.
"It's quite obvious all of this is occurring in
middle of an election," Peterson said. "It makes us
wonder why Holy Cross is being singled out. These
things aren't happening at other colleges in the city?
Hmmmm. That's all I can say. Hmmmm. We firmly
believe inappropriate behavior should be addressed,
but the numbers of arrests have been a stretch."
Dennis Fitzmaurice, owner of Fitzy's general
store at Malvern and Hampton streets, agreed.
"I've been here seven years and I've found them
to be ladies and gentlemen," Fizmaurice, who lives
three houses away, said of the students. "College
kids drink. Why is Holy Cross being singled out?
This kind of stuff doesn't go on at WPI? C'mon."
Ronal C. Madnick, executive director of the
Worcester County chapter of the American Civil
Liberties Union, called the arrests "theater of the
"They've arrested people for being in the
presence of alcohol, on suspicion of drinking,"
Yet Mayor Raymond V. Mariano dismisses
criticism alleging that the crackdown is politically
"The police chief wanted tougher enforcement,"
Mariano said during a mayoral candidates' forum last
week. "The city manager wanted tougher
enforcement. Holy Cross officials wanted tougher
enforcement. The neighborhood citizens wanted
tougher enforcement. That's what they got."
Michael Soter, president of the College Hill
Civic Association, echoed that sentiment, saying
there has been no doubt about area residents' views
concerning the round of arrests.
"They loved it," Soter said. "Holy Cross doesn't
allow underage drinking and bad behavior on their
campus, and the neighbors don't want it on their
streets. I think our point has been proven."
The association, which has a membership of
about 300 households in the College Hill area, led
the drive for the police action, which residents said
has amounted to little more than
break-it-up-and-move-along warnings to participants
in a movable weekend scene that often had hundreds
of noisy students roaming between party houses and
At a contentious association meeting in early
September, several residents complained bitterly of
sleepless nights punctuated by loud music and
students urinating on their lawns -- and sometimes
even having sex in their shrubbery. In the morning,
they said, the streets and yards would be awash in
beer cans and plastic cups.
But many say the claims are exaggerated --
that the boorish behavior of a few has been used to
condemn the entire student body.
"There isn't any fornicating going on here,
inside or outside," said Sobrino, who comes from
Queens, N.Y. "The dating scene is zilch with the
parties. Without them -- whew."
Frank Garand, a 1995 Holy Cross graduate
who teaches Internet page design at the college and
lives at 64 College St., directly across from the
college's main entrance, said the perception that
Holy Cross is one big Animal House is absurd.
"On any given weekend 300 or 400 students
walk by and two or three might by noisy or rowdy,"
Garand said. "I could see if the police arrest two or
three. But this is crazy. One girl got arrested coming
back from the library."
Garand said the problem isn't a lack of things
to do on campus. The college regularly schedules
dances, live entertainment and movies.
"It's just that kids would rather hang with
friends and drink," Garand said. "I used to do the
same thing. I'd never do it now. It's just a lot of
standing around a keg in a hot, crowded room."
George Soter, father of Michael, who has lived
on Clay Street since 1954, said he's not sure if the
kids are a bigger annoyance now than they were in
years and decades past. But he is convinced of one
thing: "They sure do drink a lot, more than I ever
remember. It's sad.
"Holy Cross has lost a couple of kids to
drinking in the past few years," he said, referring to
two pedestrian deaths near the college that involved
students who had been at nearby bars.
Michael Soter, 26, who now lives on College
Street and operates a convenience store frequented
by students, said alcohol consumption has
increased markedly in the last three years.
"It's like drinking is the only thing these kids
can do," Soter said. "I know they bust their butts all
week, and no one wants to deny them their parties
and a couple of beers. But when the parties go from
20 kids to 200 kids, that's a catastrophe waiting to
During a late-night mayor's walk not long ago,
Soter said, he stopped counting at 225 as he
watched students partying in an old Southbridge
Mariano said that sight caused him to shake
with fright all night as he lay in bed.
"If that rickety old three-decker collapsed, it
would have been a tragedy that would have made all
the media outlets in the world," Mariano said.
Superior Court Judge Elliott L. Zide lectured
the first batch of students brought before him about
matters of civic responsibility. Then he put them on
probation. Zide, who warned that he would be tough
on second offenders, will be on campus tomorrow to
talk with students.
"He's going to talk about the administration of
justice," Peterson said. "This is an important
teachable moment for the students."
Madnick has offered to put on a seminar for
the students on their legal rights when arrested.
"It's clear from talking to some of them they
have no idea what's going on in the courtroom,"
The college, meanwhile, is conducting
disciplinary inquiries on all arrested students.
Peterson said about half of the students have
had hearings, and none has been suspended or
expelled. She also said that some pending cases
could lead to suspension.
The disciplinary measures taken so far include
mandatory enrollment in an alcohol prevention
program, community service, and assignments to
write research papers. Peterson said students could
also be required to pay restitution in cases involving
Some students have been cleared of
wrongdoing by the college.
"The first question we asked when the arrests
started was, 'Is this an overreaction?' " Peterson
said. "And clearly in certain cases it has been.
We've encouraged students who feel they were
arrested unjustly to file a complaint with the Police
Peterson added that the college has been
swamped with angry calls from the parents of
"I don't mean this to sound snobby," Sobrino
said, "but a lot of kids who go to this school have
rich parents. The city doesn't know what it's in for."
City Councilor Paul P. Clancy Jr., whose 3rd
District encompasses much of the Holy Cross
campus, said the partying issue is cyclical, rearing
up every few years.
"Back in the old days the Jesuits would beat
them into chapel," Clancy said with a laugh.
This year, resident frustration reached
heretofore unseen heights.
"I was a little concerned it might turn into
some kind of vigilantism," Clancy said.
That is why that although he opposed the
mass arrests, Clancy believes the ride in a wagon
and the possibility of a criminal record have delivered
"These are smart kids," he said. "They'll figure
out how to be more discreet. And I'm encouraged by
the college's strong willingness to be very positive."
Clancy, 4th District City Councilor Janice L.
Nadeau and Mariano have proposed that a
college-neighborhood-city hall committee be
reconstituted to meet regularly on issues such as
the one preoccupying the Holy Cross area.
A similar committee was formed in the early
1990s to cover similar ground. It lasted for about five
years and was an effective communication
mechanism, both Clancy and Nadeau said.
Peterson said the college is open to anything
that improves communication.
"We've sat down with neighbors, city officials,
police and students," said Peterson, who is in her
third year as vice president for student affairs. "This
is an issue for all of us."
One thing that grates on neighbors and
elected officials alike is the amount of property Holy
Cross owns in the neighborhood. It includes several
houses on Caro Street, often the location of the
largest and loudest parties.
"These properties come off the tax rolls, but
city taxpayers have to provide a lot of services,"
Soter noted that people in the neighborhood
wanted College Hill designated a "Zero Tolerance
Zone," in spite of the distinct possibility that signs
identifying it as such would devalue property.
At Mariano's urging, the City Council recently
voted 6-5 to recommend that City Manager Thomas
R. Hoover classify it that way. Hoover declined,
saying it was too extreme a measure.
Konstantina B. Lukes, an at-large councilor
who is running for mayor, concurred with the
manager, saying that such designations were
intended for neighborhoods infested with "drug
dealers, prostitutes and gangs," and that the move
was one step away from martial law.
But Soter said alcohol is a drug. "If you're 21,
selling beer to a minor, you're selling."
© 1999 Worcester Telegram & Gazette