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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Two arrested, 9 hospitalized from Pachanga chaos

Published: October 29, 2010
Section: Front Page

Rager: Students dance at Pachanga, which ended early this year after a student pulled the fire alarm
PHOTO BY Andrew Rauner/The Hoot

Two university police officers were assaulted, nine students were transported to a hospital for alcohol intoxication and local towns suffered a shortage of ambulances last Saturday following a night of heavy drinking in dorms before the bi-annual Pachanga dance, Director of Public Safety Ed Callahan said.

Campus police arrested two students for assault and battery on a police officer among other charges, according to the Police Department Media Log.

“There’s a concern about alcohol abuse and responsible behavior,” Callahan said. “This situation was just a debacle.”

This weekend’s incidents prompted university President Jehuda Reinharz to send an e-mail to students.

“These incidents are unprecedented in my 16 years as president, and they cause me and other members of this community great concern,” Reinharz wrote. “We will not tolerate this conduct and those who engage in it will face campus disciplinary procedures and possible criminal charges.”

Brandeis Emergency Medical Corps (BEMCO) responded to a call from an intoxicated student in the Ziv Residence Quad about 10:30 p.m. on Saturday and before university police arrived students were “combative,” Callahan said.

One student threatened to kill officers and then bit an officer on the arm when police tried to help paramedics after the student fell down. The student was arrested and the officer went to the hospital for treatment of the wound. A group of students then followed behind the student and another student struck a police officer on the head, Callahan said. He was also arrested and both students were taken by university police to the Waltham Police station, according to the media log.

Callahan said that he believed the party in Ziv was affiliated with a sports team or club.

At Pachanga, the dance held in Levin Ballroom and sponsored by the International Club, two students sold fake tickets, allowing students who had not bought tickets from the International Club to enter Pachanga. The ballroom reached capacity before at least 50 students who had bought legal tickets entered, Can Nahum ’12, president of the International Club said.

In addition to university police officers, private security personnel also worked at Pachanga as they had in previous years. There was a total of 23 security guards and police officers working Saturday night.

Some students who were working additional security at the event did not notice the second batch of fake tickets until a police officer spotted a student carrying some of them in his pocket.

“That exacerbated the problem outside from a crowd mentality,” Callahan said, explaining that students who couldn’t enter became rowdy and began jumping on the white windows, which form a circle outside Levin.

At about 12:30 a.m., an unknown individual pulled the fire alarm, Callahan said. The building was evacuated, and shortly after police decided not to resume the event, considering the behavior and attitude of the students outside. Additionally, any students allowed in would need to be screened with metal detectors, Callahan said.

Elsewhere on campus, BEMCO received 17 calls of intoxicated students. Nine of the students were transported to local hospitals for treatment, requiring ambulances from Waltham and nearby towns, Callahan said.

One female student fell down inside a North Quad dorm and suffered head trauma, in addition to difficulty breathing, as a result of intoxication. She was transported to a local hospital by a Weston Fire Department ambulance.

Callahan explained that although no alcohol is served at Pachanga, “it’s the notoriety of the event” that causes many students to drink alcohol before attending, Callahan said, adding that it creates a chaotic atmosphere outside the dance.

“All of a sudden, it’s like dropping a glass,” he said. “It explodes.”

“People experiment with [alcohol] and they don’t know when to stop,” Callahan said. “There’s probably a lot of peer pressure.”

Student Union President Daniel Acheampong ’11 said that the community needs to focus on “educating students on how to consume alcohol” because “they will find a way to drink…”

Nahum said that all of the incidents from this weekend can be broken down to problems from intoxication, fake tickets and the attitude about Pachanga.

“It’s marketed differently by peers,” Nahum said. “Pachanga has become such a name that it’s like a Pachanga weekend.”

Reinharz wrote in his e-mail that “Public Safety, Student Affairs and student leaders are reviewing the events of the weekend and will work to ensure that we do not see a repeat of these incidents. We will also re-examine the steps we take to educate students about the risks inherent in alcohol consumption.”

Each student arrested was charged with assault and battery of a police officer. One was also charged with disorderly conduct and another was also charged with resisting arrest. The university has filed judicial charges against the students, according to the media log.

Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Student Life Rick Sawyer deferred requests for comment to Associate Dean of Student Life Jamele Adams.

Adams declined to comment on the incidents durring the weekend.

Nahum said that Reinharz’s letter sends an important message. “Administrators need to bring up those concerns,” he said.

Meanwhile, the International Club has focused on holding other events, such as International Night under the Sukkah and the International Fair, Nahum said.