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Increased dialogue needed between students and community authority

On Saturday, Aug. 29, an officer from the Waltham Police Department approached the off-campus residences of several Brandeis students and warned them not to host parties, threatening them with arrest should they disobey the police. This week, The Brandeis Hoot published a news article detailing the events of Aug. 29 and subsequent meetings between administration and leaders from the Greek life and off-campus community.

According to Waltham Chief of Police Keith MacPherson, his office instructed officers to go out and speak with Brandeis students to outline Waltham Police Department’s expectations of Brandeis students living off campus. As such, we see that Officer Cory Amarante was carrying out his duties when he spoke with students. However, we find that Amarante went beyond his instructions. Students interviewed by The Hoot stated that though Amarante attempted to portray his interactions with students as friendly warnings, this was not the case. Students characterized Amarante’s words as threatening, stating that after this first warning, any issues at their off-campus homes would result in arrest. He was harsh and behaved inappropriately. Though the Waltham Police Department claims Amarante was supposed to discuss responsibilities of off-campus students, members of several of Brandeis’ Greek organizations reported that they feel expectations are unclear when it comes to hosting parties. This miscommunication is not conducive to a safe and secure environment, but rather an added stressor to students who would like to host parties or get-togethers.

The Greek Awareness Council (GAC) has met with Brandeis administrators, and they plan to meet again with a representative of the Waltham police. The Hoot hopes that this meeting will foster an improved understanding of what Waltham police expect of Brandeis students living off campus. It is not fair for students to remain in the dark when the Waltham police is prepared to accost students at the slightest infraction.

Since the night of Aug. 29, students are afraid to host any large gathering off-campus, not wanting to provoke Waltham police to begin arresting tenants. With no parties off-campus and now no registered parties allowed at the Mods, the issue becomes where younger students may turn next (because it is naive to assume that disallowing parties will stop parties from happening). The registration process for parties on campus provides a safe method for students to be held accountable for the intensity of their parties. If students cannot attend registered and monitored parties, will there be an increase in the number of students consuming alcohol in their dry underclassmen dorms or suites? Will police, either Brandeis police or Waltham police, attempt to confront these students?

We understand the concern for student safety by administrators and police figures in the community; however, open communication with students is a key part of our safety. Punishments and threats are not going to build trust between students and authority figures, and we are hopeful that open dialogue in the future will ease worries on all sides.

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