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Recent arsons frustrate on campus residents

After a perpetrator was arrested last semester for starting fires in the Liberal Arts bathrooms, many believed that the issue of arson on campus would end.

However outbreaks of intentional fires have continued throughout the Spring 2011 semester.

“There have obviously been a series of nuisance-like fires that have caused minimal damage, but this is something we take very seriously,” stated Colonel Emil Fioravanti of the university’s Department of Public Safety. “It’s important that any person who is considering setting even a nuisance fire will be dealt with very severely by the university and the courts.”

Since February 16, students have received e-mails from Public Safety regarding three more fires–two set in Roberts on February 14 and 15–and another set in Pine Dale on February 28.

Over a span of twenty-four hours, two fires were set in Roberts. The first involved items intentionally set afire in the stairwell of a third floor suite leading up to the rooftop. The second arson was involved unknown individual(s) attempting to scorch the hinges of a utility closet door. In the case of all three nuisance fires, the fire alarms went off and students were evacuated from the buildings.

In Pine Dale on February 28, perpetrators set fire to a bulletin board. This is on the heels of a large bulletin board fire set in Hickory the previous semester.

“We have partnered with the Dartmouth Fire Department and the State Fire Marshall’s Office to enhance the investigative process,” explained Fioravanti.

Nonetheless both commuter and resident students are eager for answers and increasingly on edge.

Senior Ben Lawler stated, “The fires are ridiculous. This is my fourth year here and [arsons] have never been such a large issue on campus.”

In the past year, fires have caused destruction in buildings all over campus, from Hickory to Pine Dale, and Roberts to Liberal Arts. Although Fioravanti explained that there is no evident trend of where the fires are being set, many on campus are impatient that a proactive solution has yet to be found.

One point of discussion has included the implementation of video cameras in many of the public areas of campus, but there are evident problems pointed out by Fioravanti regarding this plan.

“The issue of cameras is on the table for discussion, but especially in residence halls it requires careful analysis of the balance between privacy and security. It is also important to understand that real safety requires engaged community members who look out for each other and their physical surroundings.”

Nonetheless, senior Elena Fennessey stated, “We need to have a camera system or some sort of security system in place to start catching these acts of vandalism. The school needs to redirect their funds in a proper manner to make this school a safer, more enjoyable place to live.”

The Department of Public Safety cannot comment on ongoing investigations. Any students with information should visit the public safety website, http://www.umassd.edu/publicsafety/.

External links are provided for reference purposes. The Torch is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites.

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