A disturbing video that surfaced Monday shows a group of students bullying and attacking another student in broad daylight, apparently over his sneakers, in front of Dean College’s administration building. And while the video is drawing plenty of unwanted press for the college, it’s also making for quick disciplinary turnaround.
Nine students have been expelled so far, and no other students are under investigation at this point.
The fight stands out among student altercations for a number of reasons: It took place on campus, in front of the administration building, during the day, with many witnesses. And thanks to the video, in which several students are easily identifiable, the witnesses are no more safe from punishment under campus policies than are the perpetrators.
The video shows a group of about 10 students following an individual down the campus sidewalk. The person who sent the video to the website that posted it said that the student who beat up the victim had his sneakers missing for two weeks, and the victim was wearing the same ones.
The group begins shouting and surrounding the victim, before one student (presumably the one with the missing sneakers) approaches him, saying, “Who’s your man?” When the victim finally puts his hand up to block the student’s repeated advances, the student slaps him to the ground and keeps throwing punches. As the victim’s shoes are torn off and used as a weapon, he tries briefly to fight back but cannot.
Once they seize the sneakers, the students strut around, screaming, and seem content to hang out on the scene being filmed. Some other students walk through and cars pass by.
The victim was hospitalized and released Friday night.
At first, officials who got word of the fight Friday afternoon suspended only the main perpetrator. (The college’s public safety office received numerous calls about the fight when it happened.) But once they got wind of the video early this week, they started tracking down the others who cheered the fight on or “actively stood by,” said Dean spokesman John Marcus.
“It goes against the Dean College code of conduct and community standards,” Marcus said. “You don’t stand around and watch one of the members of your community be pummeled, basically, and not do anything to help him.”
Dean President Paula M. Rooney said in a statement Monday that an investigation is ongoing and the college is working with the authorities to “swiftly and appropriately address this incident and all who were involved.”
“I know that we are all deeply saddened by what has transpired,” Rooney said. “Our responsibility as a community is to hold all of us responsible for our own behavior and to be certain we are behaving in a manner that is in keeping with earning the right to be a member of the Dean College Community.”
In the meantime, the dean of students is meeting with residents in the dorms, discussing the importance of appropriate conduct and safety on campus. Students who met with the dean supported the college’s response, Marcus said.
Dean officials chalked up the incident to bad actors. “This is an isolated incident. It is in no way indicative of the type of student or type of environment at Dean College,” spokesman Gregg Chalk said. “Obviously, I think our actions speak loudly about what our feelings are.”