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Off-campus students report increased police monitoring

By Hannah Schuster and Charlotte Aaron

Section: News

September 11, 2015

Officer Cory Amarante of the Waltham Police Department approached Brandeis students at their off-campus homes on Saturday, Aug. 29 and warned them, in what students called a “threatening” manner, not to host any parties at their residences. 

Off-campus homes approached include several of Brandeis’ unaffiliated fraternities such as Phi Kappa Psi, Zeta Beta Tau and Alpha Epsilon Pi, according to students present at their homes at the time of the visits. Amarante also approached residences of Brandeis’ soccer and baseball team members, as well as the home of at least one other group of Brandeis students. 

The previous night, several student groups hosted parties off-campus, including the baseball team, Sigma Alpha Mu and Phi Kappa Psi. Two officers from the Waltham Police Department shut down parties at Sigma Alpha Mu and Phi Kappa Psi. 

Sam Krystal ’17, a member of Phi Kappa Psi, reported that the officer warned him to be prepared with $40 for bail if the fraternity hosted a party at the house. Krystal identified the officer who approached him as Amarante, the Waltham Police Department’s liaison to Brandeis. 

Krystal was sitting on the porch of his fraternity’s house with two other students, including Leon Tillmanns ’18, when Amarante approached his house in uniform around 5 p.m. on Aug. 29. According to Krystal, as well as students from other residences, Amarante stressed the repercussions of hosting a party.

“This officer also made it very clear that should we engage in any external social behaviors at that house, they, being the Waltham police, would immediately come to our house, and we should have $40 cash in hand in preparation to be charged with the following charges: disturbing the peace, distributing to minors if you’re 21 and older, possession of alcohol if you’re under 21,” said Krystal. 

While Krystal felt Amarante attempted to appear sincere by stating that he had been involved with Greek life as a student, Krystal viewed the conversation as more a threat than a reminder of the rules. 

Jessica Plante ’16, an off-campus resident, was approached by Amarante on Aug. 29 while having friends over, along with another Waltham police officer between 9:00 and 9:30 p.m. Amarante had not approached her home earlier that day.

Amarante informed Plante and resident Gabi Scheinthal ’16 that should the police return that night, or any time this year, to her house, the homeowners present would be arrested. 

“They said we only had one warning for the entire year,” said Plante, who was troubled by the potential ramifications. “[If] in March, I have a party and then the cops show up, I still get in trouble, even though that’s a six-month difference.” 

Like Krystal, Plante felt the officers tried to present the conversation as a calm warning, but she disagrees with the characterization. Plante stated, at the moment, she does not plan to host any more large-scale gatherings.

Waltham Chief of Police Keith MacPherson did not grant Amarante permission to comment. In a phone conversation with The Brandeis Hoot, MacPherson confirmed that the department sent Amarante to remind students residing in off-campus houses that they are members of the Waltham community and must follow the law, in particular about underage drinking. 

“Underage drinking is unacceptable,” said MacPherson. If police have probable cause to believe there is underage drinking, they will approach the house. MacPherson stated that the reason for all of this is to make sure everyone is safe. 

According to MacPherson, officers are sent to tell students in known off-campus houses upfront about police expectations, a police tactic used at Bentley University to minimize student interactions with police. 

In response to the visits by police, leaders and members of Brandeis’ Greek organizations, Assistant Dean of Students and Director of Student Activities Stephanie Grimes, Dean of Students Jamele Adams and Noel Coakley of the Psychological Counseling Center met on Friday, Sept. 4, to discuss relations between Brandeis students and the Waltham police.

“We have had some lack of communication between the Greek organizations, the Waltham police, and the administration, so we are really trying to find ways for all of us to really collaborate well together,” said Gabriel Sanders ’17, vice president of the Greek Awareness Council (GAC). “I think we really all have the same goal, which is safety.” 

At the meeting Adams encouraged students to remain calm around police officers and film any interactions, said Xander Abajian ’17, president of Phi Kappa Psi. 

While no conclusions about how to handle the student interactions with the Waltham police were made at the meeting, the group plans to reconvene as soon as possible with a representative from the Waltham police. 

The goal of the meeting with a representative from the Waltham police will really be “to set rules and guidelines and safety procedures that students should be following,” said Nimisha Shinday ’17, president of the GAC. Shinday emphasized the importance of keeping everyone safe.

Since the student interactions with the Waltham police, members of Greek organizations and sports teams relocated parties to the Foster Mods on campus. Students must register parties on campus with the Department of Community Living. 

“We had had scheduled a social event at the house which we ended up changing venue to the Mods later on that night,” said Krystal about a Phi Kappa Psi party scheduled for the night of Aug. 29. 

Alpha Epsilon Pi relocated a party to the Mods, according to a post on a Facebook event page, and Brandeis’ varsity baseball team, according to a member of the team, relocated off-campus parties to the Mods for the weekend of Sept. 4. 

Following the long weekend, Senior Vice President for Students and Enrollment Andrew Flagel reported at a Town Hall meeting that there were nine alcohol-related transports to Newton-Wellesley Hospital the first weekend in September. 

Brandeis’ police log from Sunday, Aug. 30 to Sunday, Sept. 6 shows that five BEMCo reports concerning intoxicated parties came from first-year dorms. 

As a result of this spike in students hospitalized due to alcohol, Flagel announced that all parties at the Mods would be suspended for two weeks. In an email to the Brandeis community the following day, Flagel said the university will discuss whether “we can safely issue permits for future gatherings.” 

He believes recent events “[run] counter” to his expectations that Brandeis students care for each other and the law. He stated he will meet with representatives from Waltham police and fire departments and working to increase alcohol awareness programs in residence halls. 

At the Mods on Aug. 29, students reported that Waltham police shut down all activity at the Mods. Director of Public safety Ed Callahan wrote in an email to The Hoot that Waltham police do have jurisdiction over the campus. Callahan called his relationship with Waltham police “professional, cooperative and respectful.” 

MacPherson confirmed that the Waltham police can make arrests on the Brandeis campus, but emphasized that unless specifically requested to come by Brandeis Police, Waltham police officers do not patrol campus.

After midnight on Sunday, Aug. 30, Callahan stated that Brandeis police requested assistance from Waltham police to break up a large party at the Mods. While Waltham police are not often seen on campus, if required or requested by Callahan’s staff, they will patrol the campus and act in a police capacity, said Callahan.

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