As Gina Grant began classes last Tuesday at Tufts University, students there called for an end to the media circus that has dogged her since Harvard rescinded its offer of admission to her last spring.
Harvard College revoked its admission offer after an anonymous package of news clippings informed admissions officers that she pleaded no contest to the killing of her mother in 1990.
Kim F. Volkman, a first-year student, said that the Tufts student body is largely supportive of or indifferent to grant decision to attend the university.
"I believe she deserves a chance, but if it was me, I really don't think I'd feel comfortable rooming with her," Volkman said.
Grant allegedly killed her mother Dorothy Mayfield by bludgeoning her with a lead crystal candlestick. Her attorneys argued that she had suffered years of emotional abuse while living with her mother after the death of her father.
The judge in that case allowed Grant to serve six months in a juvenile detention center near her home in Lexington, S.C. and then allowed her to move to Cambridge to start over.
Grant graduated with honors from Cambridge Rindge and Latin High School and this summer made the decision to attend Tufts after Harvard and Columbia rescinded her offers of admission.
Just as media coverage exploded following those decisions in April, television crews and reporters flocked to the 144th Matriculation Day at Tufts on August 31.
In response to Grant's presence on campus, Editors of the Primary Source, a conservative biweekly Tufts publication, plastered the campus with posters that read: "Blue Lights, Safety Shuttles, Killers."
The posters included photos of Tufts President John DiBaggio and Dean of Admissions David Cuttino.
The terms "blue lights" and "safety shuttles" were references to measures that the school administration had taken to improve the safety of its students, said Colin Delaney, editor-in-chief of the Source.
Blue lights mark the locations of emergency phones on the Tufts campus; the safety shuttles bus Tufts students at night, according to Delaney.
In a telephone interview last week, Delaney said the posters were intended to criticize the university for attempting to improve campus safety while at the same time admitting a student who had plead no contest to killing her mother, Delaney said in a telephone interview last week.
"We [put up the posters] because we had every expectation that the university would not tell incoming freshmen what it had done," Delaney said.
Delaney said the Source had a responsibility "as a member of the free press" to inform students and their parents of Grant's presence on campus.
He said Tufts decision to remove the magazine's posters violated the publications right to free speech.
But Rosemarie Van Camp, director of communications and public relations at Tufts, said that the Source had violated university policy by postering in areas other than the kiosks officially designated throughout the campus.
"The only fliers that had been removed were those that had been posted in inappropriate places," Van Camp said last Thursday.
"We certainly respect the right of any student to express his or her opinion, but it has to be done under university guidelines," Van Camp added.
But Delaney said that all of the fliers had been removed, including those on kiosks.
"I will readily admit that we put [the posters] in places that we weren't supposed to, but the fact is they tore them down everywhere," Delaney said. "It completely goes against what [the University] told the press they did."
Although the conservative magazine was critical of Grant's admission and presence on campus, most Tufts students interviewed said Grant should be allowed to attend college without media attention.
"I think that anyone that made that [flier] should get a life," first-year student Kevin R. Ng. "She's my classmate. Find some other girl to pick on."
Grant will live this semester in a single room in Bush Hall, a dormitory on the southern end of campus.
Delaney says the single room shows that Grant is receiving special tratment from the administration.
Delaney points to the fact that Tufts President John DiBaggio intervened personally in the admissions process to approve admission for Grant as proof that she is being treated differently.
"I accept responsibility for [her enrollment]," DiBaggio told the Tufts Observer six days before Grant moved in.
"She is the only freshman with a single. That's unheard of," Delaney said.
Asked to comment on Grant's presence last week, both the Office of the President and the Dean of Students deferred comment to Van Camp.
But Tufts has made its support for Grant clear since the day she was accepted there.
"It is our view that having paid her debt to society, [Grant] should not be denied the opportunity of pursuing a college degree," said an official university statement. "We intend to do all that we can to help her achieve that goal. We are after all, a just and fair society, and Tufts is a caring and forgiving university. In essence, any other decision would have been antithetical to our fundamental values and beliefs."
Delaney took issue with that statement.
"She really hasn't paid her debt to society," Delaney said. "She served six months. That's nothing compared to what she did to her mother. She simply doesn't deserve a second chance."