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Winthrop Admins Threaten Disciplinary Action After Vandalism

A renovated Winthrop House features a new residence hall and expanded common spaces.
A renovated Winthrop House features a new residence hall and expanded common spaces. By Megan M. Ross
By William S. Flanagan and Katherine E. Wang, Crimson Staff Writers

After repeated reports of “vandalism, theft, and destruction of property,” Winthrop House administrators sent multiple emails to House residents condemning the perpetrators and warning of potential consequences.

Linda D. Chavers, Winthrop House resident dean, sent an email to students Sunday afternoon formally addressing the “recurring incidences [sic]” in the third floor bathrooms of Standish Hall, one of three residential halls within the house.

“This is unacceptable and just plain disappointing,” Chavers wrote. “It’s frustrating that anyone could be so disrespectful to our House staff. So I’ll remind you that this type of behavior is not going to be tolerated and can be grounds for formal discipline.”

Chavers also noted that the Harvard University Police Department had been contacted.

Ronald S. Sullivan Jr. and Stephanie Robinson, Winthrop’s faculty deans, sent a more extensive email to Winthrop residents Monday afternoon, citing other instances of “vandalism” to Standish Hall in addition to those in the third floor bathrooms. According to the email, unidentified perpetrators threw toilet paper out of the hall’s windows to litter the courtyard below and also stole a wetsuit from one of the restrooms.

“Never in our eight years serving as Masters and, then, Faculty Deans have we experienced the spate of disrespect to Winthrop House, its students, and their personal property,” Sullivan and Robinson wrote. “The foregoing is unacceptable and will not be tolerated.”

Like Chavers, Sullivan and Robinson also mentioned that HUPD had been notified and added that disciplinary action would take place immediately if the responsible individuals do not come forward. The faculty deans gave the perpetrators, and those with knowledge of the incidents, 24 hours to speak up or face the revocation of housing privileges and referral to the Administrative Board, the College’s primary disciplinary body.

“If our investigation or that of HUDP [sic] uncovers the responsible parties or those with knowledge of the afore-described misdeeds, and those persons had not come forward on their own accord, we will immediately revoke your housing privileges and simultaneously refer the matter to the Administrative Board, with our strongest recommendation for sanctions," the Winthrop faculty deans wrote.

Standish Hall resident Jacob N. Russell ’19 said he heard about the events through the deans’ emails. He added he was surprised by the “strict” nature of the messages.

“Normally if you get an email from the House Master, it’s like ‘have a safe winter break,’ or something along those lines,” Russell said, referring to Sullivan and Robinson. “So it’s definitely pretty big to get an email from them just basically letting everyone know that this is unacceptable, and that HUPD will get involved if necessary.”

Russell also said that, given Winthrop House recently underwent renovation, “you would think that people treat it with a bit more respect.”

Fellow resident Sruthi Palaniappan ’20 said she saw the vandalism first-hand Sunday.

‘They had taken the bottles of shampoo, conditioner, and completely just squirted out everything that was in there,” Palaniappan said. “My retainer was gone, and my very expensive toothbrush was gone, and it didn’t seem necessary at all. It was very disappointing.”

Palaniappan also noted her house requires Winthrop-specific swipe access in multiple locations—perhaps offering a clue to the identity of the vandals.

"Maybe one of the members of the group, at least, [lives] in Winthrop," she said.

—Staff writer William S. Flanagan can be reached at Follow him on Twitter at @willflan21.

—Staff writer Katherine E. Wang can be reached at Follow her on Twitter at @katherineewang.

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