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One week after an incident in which two Harvard Summer School students were injured in falling through a broken Canaday window, the two injured students continue to point fingers at each other over responsibility for the incident.
One of the two students who fell through the window is refuting the other student’s claim, reported by The Crimson last week, that the altercation was a “mistake.”
Justin Feldman said that Zachariah Germaniuk did not trip and accidentally knock Feldman into the window. “He threw me out the window,” Feldman said.
One acquaintance of both students said Thursday that Harvard has responded to the incident by placing Germaniuk on probation for the rest of the summer, and has imposed no discipline on Feldman. Administration officials declined to comment on that report.
Feldman rejected the notion that tripping would have caused him to break through the glass window.
And though Germaniuk asserted last week that the floor had been strewn with custodial supplies, Feldman said there had only been a single broom lying on the floor, and that Germaniuk did not trip over it.
“I know what a push feels like, and I was pushed through that window,” he said.
Feldman said he sustained injuries on his legs and head, where he had to receive several stitches.
In addition, he said he never struggled against what he described as Germaniuk’s sudden action. According to Feldman, he had been holding onto his math textbook and notes, which were so bloodied afterwards that they had to be discarded.
Germaniuk had said last week that the altercation began after Feldman had pinched a female classmate on the buttocks while she was taking a drink of water from a fountain.
Germaniuk said the woman appeared upset as a result of the action, and that he and a friend, Marshall Roch, told Feldman to stop. Feldman had responded, he claimed, by advancing toward Roch.
Feldman has offered a very different account, however. Feldman said the female student was actually one of his best friends on campus, and that he did not think she took offense.
“I was joking around with her and she knew it,” he said. “I told Zach right on the spot, ‘She’s one of my good friends here and I was just joking around with her.’”
Germaniuk’s roommate Josh Parks, who was present immediately before the incident, said he agreed with Feldman’s account.
“She wasn’t really upset,” Parks said. “It was just a friendly type of thing.”
Germaniuk said he thought that the woman “seemed very agitated,” and he inferred that she was upset because of “the look in her eyes, the motion to get away from Justin.”
The female student could not be reached for comment.
Feldman also said that he did not act in a threatening manner toward his roommate Marshall Roch. Germaniuk had said last week that he had intervened in order to protect Roch from harm, but Feldman said no harm was ever threatened.
“Marshall was squirting me with his squirt gun, and I made a joke about his Fight Club, which is when the guys in our room wrestle with each other,” Feldman said. “The next thing I knew, before Marshall even responded, I turned around and saw Zach charging at me.
“Marshall knew I was joking around with him,” he said.
According to Roch, who is also a Crimson intern, “It was like he was stepping up to me, kind of like he wanted to fight, I guess. He was probably just playing around, but it wasn’t funny.”
Alexis Turzan, who Roch and Feldman say was the only other person to witness the incident, did not respond to requests for comment.
Roch said Turzan told Feldman to stop “harassing” his friend.
“You could tell she didn’t like it,” he said.
Feldman said that after he touched his friend, Germaniuk “got very offensive...very aggressive, and he was giving me dirty looks.”
Roch was uncertain whether Germaniuk had tripped, because, he said, “It was really fast. I sort of saw it off the side of my vision. Alexis said they tripped.”
Germaniuk, who said he did not know Feldman and the girl were close friends, said there had been “some miscommunication” when they had talked after leaving University Health Services.
“I agree that it was due to my interference that the window was broken, but I was reacting to his actions,” he said. “If he had not taken his course of action, I would not be in the position to defend the honor of my female colleague and to defend my male colleague.”
There was a history of tension between Germaniuk and Feldman long before the incident, according to Feldman.
“I know Zach disliked me,” he said. “He’s told people that he doesn’t like me.”
Both Feldman and Germaniuk said that multiple versions of the story have been floating around campus.
“I just think that everyone’s trying to cover their own ass here,” Parks said. “No one wants anything to fall on them. I just don’t think there’s going to be any way to find out what truly happened, since everyone is so interested in their well being.”
Both students met separately with Assistant Dean Keith Moon and the Harvard Summer School administrative board on Wednesday to recount the events.
Moon declined to comment for this story.
Feldman said that Germaniuk will compensate him for his discarded math book. Roch said Germaniuk had also been placed on probation for the rest of the summer. Germaniuk declined to comment on any punishment, saying administrators had advised him not to.
Feldman received no punishment, Feldman said.
“I guess I learned a lesson from this,” Feldman said. “I just have to think about what I do before I do it. If there’s tension in the situation, I have to leave it. I can’t keep pushing people’s buttons.”
—Staff writer Ryan J. Kuo can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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