A series of four violent confrontations at campus events Saturday night has left three Bowdoin students and a visiting University of Maine student injured and many in the community concerned by the unexpected outbreak of aggression.
Four separate incidents were confirmed by the Orient, three of which took place at or just outside Ladd House. The fourth incident took place during Super Snack at Thorne. All events occurred between 11:15 p.m. Saturday and 12:15 a.m. Sunday.
In the most serious incident, a visiting student from the University of Maine at Orono was knocked unconscious for a brief period. Other students were treated at area hospitals for injuries sustained during the other fights.
Security is investigating the incidents in preparation for referral to the Office of the Dean of Student Affairs.
The three incidents at Ladd took place during one of two campus-wide parties held Saturday evening as part of the Winter Carnival. The other was held at neighboring Baxter House.
According to Baxter House proctor Alex Davis '07, the party went smoothly. Despite reportedly low attendance, the house's four kegs were "kicked" by 11:00 p.m., after which the partygoers moved en masse to Ladd, according to Mike LoBiondo '06, president of that house.
Witnesses agree that harsh words were exchanged between Billy Mauke '06 and Joe Cruise '07.
After the exchange, one first-year witness, who requested to remain unnamed, reported that Cruise approached him and his friends and "looked at [Lucas] Guarino ['07] and said, 'Hey, they're a couple of kids over there who want to start something.'"
According to the same witness, Guarino proceeded to approach Mauke, tapped him on the shoulder, and "there was an exchange of words."
In a telephone interview with the Orient, Mauke said that "Lucas came in and punched me in the face." According to the first-year source, Guarino "probably got two shots in." Mauke said that he sustained a "fat lip" and a "sore eye."
Mauke said he "grabbed [Guarino's] shirt to try to keep him at arm's length and his shirt ripped." Multiple witnesses corroborated Mauke's account. The first-year witness characterized Mauke's actions as "self-defense" and the ripping of Guarino's shirt "not intentional." Guarino "picked a fight out of nothing," according to the witness.
Another witness, who asked not to be identified, disagreed, and said "Luke came over and told [Mauke] to relax and the kid grabbed Luke and ripped his shirt off."
Both students were pulled away from each other by their friends. According to witnesses, Guarino was angry about his ripped shirt, but was restrained by his friends.
At about 15 minutes after midnight, Guarino went looking for Billy Mauke, according to people in the vicinity at the time.
The second incident at Ladd
Paul DeCoster '08 reported seeing Guarino approach first year Max Key.
"Max was dancing with his girlfriend," DeCoster said, "and Lucas came up from behind him, threw his beer in the kid's face and just landed five shots to Max's right eye."
Zach Roberts '08 witnessed the attack. "I was standing in Ladd...and there was some loud commotion," he said. "I got pushed out of the way, and I saw this kid just throwing punches."
Roberts said that Key's "face was all swollen up."
Key received seven stitches near his eye at an area hospital later in the night.
According to one witness, who wishes to remain unnamed, Guarino—apparently realizing that he mistook Key for Mauke—later expressed remorse for what he had done.
DeCoster said that Guarino had attacked him at a party several weeks ago.
"I was dancing at Ladd, he came up behind me...threw his beer in my face and punched me," he told the Orient in a telephone interview.
Guarino refused to comment for this article.
The third incident at Ladd
According to witnesses, sometime around midnight, a heavily inebriated student from the University of Maine at Orono began to behave inappropriately on the dance floor at Ladd. The exact nature of his actions is unclear.
"Apparently, he was doing something wrong to a girl on the dance floor," LoBiondo said. The Maine student was "perhaps grabbing her or being a little too forceful." The female tried to remove herself from the situation, but was pursued.
Some Bowdoin students standing nearby decided to intervene. They tried "to remove him—and rather forcefully," LoBiondo said.
While these students removed the Maine student from the dance floor, witnesses report he hit a wall. It is unclear whether he was pushed or fell, but the wall sustained damage.
"He was dragged outside," Steve Gogolak '05, the Ladd House Proctor, said.
Witnesses' reports indicate that there, inebriated and bloodied, the Maine student continued to resist, despite being outnumbered by those who had dragged him outside.
"I have just as much of a right to be here as you," the Maine student yelled, according to LoBiondo.
The exchange escalated until one of the Bowdoin students punched the Maine student in the face.
The Maine student was "sucker punched harder than I have ever seen anyone sucker punched before—right in the face," LoBiondo said.
Accounts varied regarding how long the Maine student was unconscious, with the estimates ranging from five seconds to ten minutes.
Sources did say, however, that he later went to the hospital, where he received treatment for a head laceration.
The Orient's attempts to conclusively confirm the identity of the Bowdoin student who attacked the Maine student were unsuccessful.
Bowdoin Security has also been unable to definitively verify the assailant's identity.
Michael Brown, the Assistant Director of Security who is heading the investigation into the fights, spoke with the Orient about his progress in the case.
"I would say that I would want to have more conversations before I would announce that I'm reasonably confident" in the assailant's identity. "However, there have been consistent statements identifying a single individual."
The effects of the scuffles at Ladd were not limited to physical injury. In addition to the damage to the wall, a part of the window in the coatroom was smashed and blood was spattered on one of the walls.
The incident at Super Snack
There was also an incident during the heavily-attended Saturday Super Snack at Thorne.
According to Director of Dining Services Mary Lou Kennedy, the Super Snack coordinator attempted to confront a student who had thrown food at another student near the salad bar.
"Chris, the Super Snack coordinator," Kennedy said, "went over to tell the student that his behavior was inappropriate."
The student was already in an argument with another student, however.
The two students ignored Chris's requests to stop. The Super Snack coordinator then asked the two to leave, "but they continued to ignore him," Kennedy said. "At that point, Chris went to call College Security."
The coordinator returned to find a student in a restricted area of the kitchen. Chris pursued him when he tried to leave.
At the same time, another student confronted others over their behavior near the salad bar. One of those students hit him in the head with a tray, reportedly drawing blood. No other information on the extent of the injury was available.
Incidents trouble community
"There have been fights on the campus before," Brown said, "but this is the most serious series of incidents I've every witnessed, and I've been here seven years."
Gogolak agreed. "Since I've been here, I've never ever seen anything like that," he said. "I've seen shoving matches and stuff like that but in terms of people getting punched in the face, knocked out, and sent to the hospital—that sort of thing is just not Bowdoin. It's so surprising."
For many, the violence was not only surprising, but also disturbing. "I'm from the ghetto, man," another student, who requested to remain anonymous, said. "I came here to get away from that kind of violent stuff."
"It's troubling," Brown said, "because one of the beauties of working for a place like Bowdoin is actually the quality of the kids and how seriously they take the code of conduct and the way they approach things ethically and with respect."
Over the weekend, "it just really seems like that broke down," he said.