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Harvard College Administration Quiet on Abe Liu Incident

By Amy Friedman and Tara W. Merrigan, Crimson Staff Writers

As discussion of the 27-year-old Extension School student who was escorted from Weld Hall on Dec. 8 cools down on campus, freshmen have expressed concern about how the administration has handled informing students of the incident.

“I was a little bit struck by the fact that the only word we got was from our dean,” Zachary P. Fletcher ’15 said. “It seems, even though the administration knew what happened, they weren’t very quick to let us know.”

Administrators made their first official response on Wednesday with an email from Dean of Freshmen Thomas A. Dingman ’67, after The Harvard Independent and The Crimson published articles about Extension School student Abe Liu’s stay in Weld.

Throughout the fall semester, Liu had been a frequent visitor, telling other students that he was a College freshman.

Dingman’s email said that Liu has been instructed not to enter any College residential facilities.

Several freshmen said that they were unsatisfied with the email and wished the administration had been more forthcoming.

Jason A. Cernius ’15 said that the email from Dingman “didn’t really clarify anything.”

“I just wish they would be more open with what actually went on,” he added.

Dingman told The Crimson that as soon as the administration heard that students living in Weld had concerns, they sent out a broad communication to the freshmen class.

While freshmen criticized the College’s lack of transparency, few undergraduates saw any need for the College to adjust its security measures in light of Liu’s extended visit.

“I think it’s a breach of security, but it’s not one that worries me,” Caitlin S. Pendleton ’15 said. “It sounds like he had been invited.”

“It’s not something that keeps me up at night. I don’t walk into Matthews at night worrying about whether there’s a poser sleeping in  the dorms next to me,” Pendleton said.

Many noted that, due to Occupy Harvard’s presence in the Yard, security has already been heightened.

After Occupy set up camp last month, the University closed off many of the gates into the Yard and stationed security officers to check students’ identification cards at the gates remaining open.

“You already have guards at the gate. You already have to swipe into dorms. People are already told specifically not to let people piggyback,” Heather L. Pickerell ’15  said.

“I don’t think there’s anything wrong with security,” she said.

But some students argued that security should be heightened further.

“I feel like the administration should beef up security,” Matt O. Ricotta ’15 said. “It seems like a very strange and potentially dangerous situation to have someone who isn’t a freshman staying in a freshman dorm.”

Dingman said that Liu does not pose a threat to anyone in the College and therefore the administration will not address the issue further.

“My understanding is that he was the guest of some freshman. He didn’t live in the dorm; he stayed there overnight,” Dingman said, “We don’t do door knocks and intervene at night. But I think what we do need to do is instruct students to know who their guests are.”

Like Dingman, College spokesperson Jeff Neal suggested that some of the burden for ensuring safe freshman dormitories rests with the undergraduates who live in them.

“Ultimately, students have a duty not only to follow the rules, but also to make decisions in accordance with their own safety and the safety of those throughout the Harvard community,” he wrote in an emailed statement. “While the College works with officials throughout the University to enforce security rules and to safeguard the Harvard community, we must also rely on the good judgment of the students, faculty and staff who have access to residential and other facilities.”

—Staff writer Amy Q. Friedman can be reached at

—Staff writer Tara W. Merrigan can be reached at

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