Students Won't Turn O.J. On (Promise)

News Feature

At first, it might seem like the ultimate sign of campus obsession with The Trial of the Century.

Two weeks ago, on a Saturday night, 75 people crowded the top floor of the H entry of Winthrop House to drink and dance at a "Free O.J. Simpson" party.

After climbing a stairwell highlighted by outlines of bodies, and stepping into a long hallway decorated like a Los Angeles freeway, guests passed through a bathroom turned into jail cell--complete with a bloody mattress, says Brandon C. Gregoire '95, one of the party's organizers.

"I've tried to stay informed by watching the news and Court TV," Gregoire says. "And I will be watching [during the trial]."

Once inside, partygoers treated themselves to drinks mixed with orange juice, in honor of the most famous defendant in a murder case in the history of the United States, Gregoire says.

"Some people were offended but in general people enjoyed it," he says.

Beginning today with the selection of a jury, television networks are preparing to broadcast large portions of the O.J. Simpson trial. For those students who have been sleeping inside a Cabot Library cubicle for the past three months, Simpson, a Hall of Fame football player, is accused of murdering his ex-wife Nicole and a young friend, Ronald L. Goldman.

But despite all the hype, and even a similar "Free O.J." party in the Quad, many students say they are not planning to tune in the trial. The Simpson case may play in L.A., but it is seen as too undignified to merit the attention of Harvard intellectuals.

Gregoire's party was well-attended, but that may have been for reasons other than a fascination with Simpson's guilt or innocence.

"You needed the pun with the alcohol," say Rob V. Ciccone '95, another of party's organizers. "It was just the O.J. motif with the free beer and drinks."

'The Chase'

Like millions of Americans, Alex S. Delaney '96 decided to stay home and watch television one Friday night last June.

Her evening with friends, however, was no Super Bowl or NBA Finals' party. Instead, she was following "The Chase"--O.J. Simpson's funereal procession across the highways of Los Angeles in a white Ford Bronco.

"It was a party watching the chase," Delaney says. "Everyone was centered around the television screen."

But Delaney says her interest in the case has waned since that summer right, partly because of the hype.