By Kelsey Bode & Madeline Hughes
Late Saturday night and early Sunday morning, a series of events unfolded that led to numerous rumors on campus of students not allowing fellow classmates into a party because of their weight.
The chain of events began in townhouse 311 when the homeowners were asked by Lauren Cuculino, ’17, a 300s Apartment Community Advisor (ACA), to quiet down and stop admitting people into their party because they had reached capacity. Townhouses are not permitted by the college to have more than 45 people present at a gathering
“Saturday night, we were in 311, we were helping Shandon bounce her party,” said Andrew Thurston, ’17. Once told to shut down the party, Thurston stopped letting people into the townhouse and was helping the residents to get people out, according to Shandon Kelleher, ’17, resident of townhouse 311. Eventually, Thurston went on a bathroom break.
“I turned round, saw [a scale], and thought that it was just something to do,” said Thurston. “We brought it down to the entry way and were just jumping on it. There was really no point other than that to have us all jump on a scale. There was no ill intention behind it.”
According to Thurston, between four and five other males and three females were the only individuals involved in stepping on the scale.
“Then someone said at one point ‘are they weighing people to get in?’” Kelleher, said, recounting the events. “And I was like absolutely not and took it away. I put it away under the chair I was sitting on. Then continued to not let anyone in because we had not been letting anyone in anyway.”
Public safety responded to the 300s because of multiple complaints, including a physical assault. “The people actually out in the 300’s saw something that warranted the officers and residential life staff to look into a situation,” said Douglas Babcock, director of public safety.
Class Facebook pages at St. Michael’s have been buzzing with discussion over what, exactly, was happening with the scale. Allegations that female students were being admitted by weight into the party have sparked tense social media posts regarding body shaming, but the vast majority of Facebook accusations were not corroborated by those interviewed by The Defender.
The Defender has yet to speak to anyone who stepped on the scale as a price of admission or was asked to leave because of their weight.
“There’s obviously a lot of pressure in our society especially for women to look a certain way or to present themselves in a specific way,” said Micalee Sullivan, director for the center of women and gender. “We talk about body image all the time in the media and stuff like that, when you hear stories like this I think about the social pressure that students often face in college. To be presented with a situation where you’re asked to kind of put yourself on a scale, I would hope that people would see how incredibly problematic that would be and would call people out on that. I’m not sure what happened, but were just a lot of red flags being raised when I heard this story.”
A prominent allegation on Facebook targeted the lacrosse team as having been proponents of weighing female students to enter the party, claiming that these events transpired at the “lacrosse house.” There is no “lacrosse townhouse,” according to Thurston and Kelleher.
“So many people have written on Facebook. I’m not taking away from what they are saying about we as a society have a problem with body shaming women,” Kelleher said. “Looking back on the entire thing it was an isolated incident. We are three girls and a fish who would never do that.”
The events of Saturday night are still an ongoing investigation according to public safety.
No bias report had been filed with the bias response team by a student about these events as of Tuesday morning. However, the bias response team decided on Monday that this was a bias incident and needed to be investigated according to Kerri Leach, assistant dean of students.
A bias report was released on Tuesday asking for information about these events. A male witness and a male injured in the events of Saturday night have come forward, according to Leach.
Its being investigated currently,” Leach said.
“It’s possibly the perception that it was a joke,” Leach said. “Not a joke. We’re not going to take it as a joke. We’re on it, we want to be transparent about this.”
“I don’t believe we have identified every person involved in the situation,” Babcock said. “Related to this incident, was a report of a physical assault, because there was a physical assault and there was something related to gender bias.”
What we know:
- People were being asked to leave the party at townhouse 311 after noise and drinking complaints.
- Public Safety responded to an alleged fight in the 300s.
- There is no lacrosse house, despite allegations that these events occurred at “the lacrosse house.”
- No student complaint was filed with the bias response team as of Tuesday morning.
- The bias response team has designated this as a bias incident.
What we don’t know:
- If anyone was denied access to the party because of their weight or asked to get on a scale as a means of entry.
If you were involved with the incidents at townhouse 311 that night, or the alleged fight The Defender would like to hear from you. Please email Kelsey Bode at firstname.lastname@example.org and/or Madeline Hughes at email@example.com