New club aims to ease Brandeis Waltham tensions

September 26, 2008

The first meeting of the Advocates for Event Education and Police Instruction took place Monday in the Shapiro Multipurpose room. The club’s founder, Seth Shapiro ’09, opened the meeting by explaining the need for such an organization on campus.

Commenting on the students arrested at Pachanga two weeks ago, Shapiro noted that relations between the student body on the one hand and residents and police on the other were not what they should be. Relations between students living in Waltham and their neighbors were also an issue of concern for the Waltham City Council when university representatives appeared before that body to request a lodging license for Ridgewood three weeks ago.

“I want everyone to be aware of their rights: students, landlords, and neighbors,” Shapiro explained, describing the need for more productive engagement on Dartmouth Street where many off campus students live.

Shapiro envisioned the club organizing events to promote awareness of student rights, as well as better community relations. Annual events would include a guest lecturer and a party thrown to “simulate how a party could be legal and safe.”

The inaugural lecture will be given by C.L. Lindsey, the founder of CO-STAR, the Coalition for Students & Academic Rights, and the author of The College Student’s Guide to the Law. Lindsey’s lecture, entitled “Alcohol, Parties, and the Law” is set for Nov. 25.

Shapiro also proposed throwing block parties to improve community relations in areas where large numbers of off campus students live, and creating an annual club newsletter.

As a university chartered club, funds could be appropriated for this, though Shapiro suggested the possibility of getting local landlords to advertise available rental units to defer costs. In addition, the newsletter would contain local law enforcement and school administration contact information. Shapiro also proposed that the newsletter contain student ratings of local eating establishments and landlords.

In addition to the newsletter, the club would create a website with links to Massachusetts laws that students frequently encounter.

After his presentation, Shapiro explained some of his reasons for founding Advocates for Event Education and Police Instruction. “The social scene here has always been very disappointing,” Shapiro commented, blaming the cause on a perception that the police overstepped their rights in dealing with students.

“Students have been wrongfully arrested,” said Shapiro, citing Pachanga and other incidents. The club, as Shapiro explained, was meant to show that “there’s nothing wrong with parties or social life if it’s done safely and legally. I want to build bridges between students and the community.”

When asked if the club’s effort to educate students about their rights was in any way related to the Student Bill or Rights drawn up last semester, Student Union President Jason Gray ’10 explained that the Student Bill or Rights was separate, but added, “I welcome the opportunity to find ways for this new club to collaborate with those who are working on the Student Bill of Rights.”

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