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Late Night Conduct Deteriorating

For The Heights

Published: Sunday, November 11, 2012

Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 19:01

“It’s the worst it’s ever been by far,” said Helen Wechsler, director of Dining Services at Boston College, about recent student behavior at Late Night. Late Night, which is offered between 9 p.m. and 2 a.m. on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays at Corcoran Commons, “has always been a bit rowdy,” Wechsler said. “But from late last semester to right now, there is a lack of respect for our staff and others.”

Over the course of the semester, students have vandalized the bathrooms in Corcoran Commons, kicked in the front door, stolen the giant clock, broken dishes, vandalized soda fountains, and stolen food—all despite a nightly police presence in the food service area. At the end of each night, both the food service area and the dining area are left a mess, with trash, food, and drinks spilled on tables and floors.

“The real issues around Late Night happen on Thursdays and Fridays between 12 and 2 a.m.,” Wechsler said. “[There is] disrespect, damage to property, and a long laundry list of things that are going wrong.

“There has been yelling and swearing, [which is] very out of character for the majority of students who we serve every day,” she said. The manner in which students can be disrespectful to their peers stunned Wechsler and Megan O’Neill, the associate director of Restaurant Operations at BC. “The majority of the staff is composed of students,” O’Neill said. “The only Late Night employees that are not students are the manager, cashiers, cook, utility, and floor person.”

“The disrespecful reaction makes our staff, who work very hard, reluctant to work this shift,” Wechsler said. Derrick Cripps, general manager at Corcoran Commons, agreed that it was getting harder and harder to find staff for the Late Night shift.

“The Late Night shift used to be preferred among employees because they could listen to music and get paid a bonus,” O’Neill said. Now, however, employees at Corcoran Commons are reluctant to work a once popular shift because of “personal safety issues.” Last year, someone destroyed all of the faucets in the bathroom and threw them on the floor. Someone else, Wechsler added, “tried to light paper towels on fire in the men’s restroom.”

“It is not the norm in the behavior of a BC student, nor is it the majority of BC students,” Wechsler clarified. The students who behave so atrociously, she said, are only a small minority, “but that minority is powerful, and people stand by.”

After the Notre Dame hockey game on Friday, Corcoran Commons was packed as early as 10 p.m. At that time, said Sharyl Thompson, assistant general manager, students were “relaxed and at ease.” In just a few hours, however, things were much different.

After midnight, people become “very disrespectful, wasteful, and rude to the staff,” O’Neill said. Last month, for example, the giant clock on the wall was stolen and the front door was kicked in three times, spreading shattered glass everywhere.

Because student misconduct is most prevalent at Corcoran Commons, a police officer is present during every Late Night shift. “BCPD police officers are on duty on Fridays and Saturdays from 11 p.m. to 2 a.m.,” O’Neill said. “In the past, the officers were there for the random acts. Yet they have now found themselves looking out for misconduct.”

When asked if she would request to increase the number of BCPD officers at Late Night if student behavior didn’t improve, Wechsler didn’t seem to believe that increasing police presence was the solution.

“Being the manager of a food operation is not being a disciplinary officer,” she said. “We want to change the attitude of the culture, not add disciplines.”

Director of Public Safety John King implied a potential increase in BCPD presence at Late Night.

“BCPD officers are regularly assigned to Late Night dining and will continue to be assigned as necessary,” King said in an email. “An increase in visibility is likely.” In addition, he noted that “decisions made by Dining Services relating to the future of ‘Late Night’ will be supported as necessary by the BCPD.”

“We see it as a service, and we’re proud of that service, but the responsibility is on the students to act like adults,” King said. The more broken faucets and soda machines, O’Neill added, the “more need to fund new renovations.”

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