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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Two students arrested at party in the Mods

Published: April 4, 2008
Section: Front Page

Following an altercation at a party in the Mods Saturday March 30, two Brandeis students were arrested, one by Brandeis Public Safety and the other by Waltham Police. The Waltham Police came to the scene after an unidentified caller informed Brandeis Public Safety that there might be a weapon on the premises.

According to students present at the party, the altercation was caused by off-campus individuals not invited to the party. Gabe Gaskin ’08, a resident of the Mod in question, explained that one of the off-campus party attendees punched a Brandeis student unprovoked. Gaskin, who was in his bedroom at the time, “started hearing commotion.” Friends told him later what had occurred, he said.

Daniel Saftler ’08, also at the party, explained that the off-campus attendees “were being disrespectful, saying and doing stupid s—.”

While Saftler did not see the physical attack, “I saw a lot of people pulling people apart…it happened really fast and everyone was stressed.”

Shortly thereafter, both Gaskin and Saftler said most people left the party. The Brandeis and Waltham Police arrived after the physical altercation ended and the off-campus party attendees had left, said Gaskin.

“Police were coming in through the front door at 1:59 [a.m.],” said Gaskin, “the people I didn’t know were gone before 1:59.” According to Gaskin, the Brandeis student was attacked at 1:50 in the morning. The Brandeis Police Log reports that the call to police was made at 1:54 a.m.

He added, “the reason most people didn’t see the arrests was because the altercation was dispersed before the police arrived.”

Students at the party were concerned with the behavior of the police. “The police came in yelling obscenities,” Gaskin said.

Brandeis Public Safety officers could not comment on the situation due to regulations preventing comments to the media.

Referring to the police call citing the possible presence of a weapon, Director of Student Development and Conduct Erika Lamarre commented, “when there’s a sense of danger, there’s going to be a different approach by law enforcement.”

“The approach is much more passive if the police are breaking up a party that’s going on after quiet hours,” she added.

According to the Brandeis Police Log, witnesses said “there were no weapons shown at anytime.”

Additionally, students expressed concern with the fairness and appropriateness of the arrests made. Neither student arrested wished to speak with The Hoot.

Sierra Kagan ’09 said in an e-mail message, “I was appalled at the violence used by both the Waltham and Brandeis police, mainly against minority students, and they didn’t even take a second glance at me, a white girl in the middle of it all. I saw them forcefully arrest my [minority] friend, as he was begging for them to stop using violence.”

Gaskin witnessed the arrest of the second Brandeis students. He explained that after walking past the student handcuffed by Waltham Police, the second student approached a Brandeis officer nearby “with his hands clasped in submission,” and asked if the arrest of the other student was necessary. “He was trying to get the officer’s attention to ask a question,” said Gaskin, “he never got his attention.”

The student was later charged with disorderly conduct according to the Brandeis Police Log.

“Disorderly conduct is a copout charge,” said Gaskin. “It requires very little substantiation by the officer except his discretion at the time.”

“Students can be put into custody for disorderly conduct,” said Lamarre. “If students get in the way of police action, that is disorderly conduct.”

The student arrested by Brandeis Public Safety “was neither drunk nor belligerent nor disorderly,” Gaskin remarked.

Echoing Gaskin, Kagan wrote, “The main outrage in all of this is that the Brandeis police are in place to protect us students, and instead of getting down to business and pinpointing the culprits of the violence, they started willy-nilly arresting minority students.”

“In terms of police and our students being arrested, I think there’s tension going on right now…it troubles me that police often get treated with disrespect,” Lamarre stated.

She explained that while students feel they deserve respect “regardless of conduct…what I hear from police is that they get treated with a lot of disrespect.”

An interaction with police “is not a moment for dialogue. That’s a moment to be compliant with directives,” Lamarre said. “Dialogue can come later,” she added.