Article in the School Newspaper
The Rensselaer Polytechnic
Volume CXII, Number 28
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, NY
Wednesday, April 14, 1993
'Drop Squad' apprehended
* Seven members admit to dropping items down stairwell
By DAVE FLANAGAN
Seven members of the supposed "Rensselaer Drop Squad" had action taken against them by the Institute Judicial Board, according to Associate Dean of Students, Melanie McCulley.
Six individuals have received probation, been ordered to pay restitution for damages and also must perform community service for Environmental Services. The "master" of the group had to pay restitution for this case and was expelled, however, there were additional issues involving this case, McCulley said.
Public Safety apprehended members of the Rensselaer Drop Squad after one disgruntled member turned in to authorities a videotape documenting the group's "drops" in the CII stairwell.
The group has admitted to dropping various items down the nine-story stairwell including pumpkins, newspapers, artificial snow, a Christmas tree complete with decorations, a typewriter and shredded videotape, according to Bill Denn, Public Safety Information Officer.
"This has been the most intensive campaign to date," asserted Christopher LeMaistre, '72, director of the CII building. "It's been an enormous inconvenience and expense."
LeMaistre said that these incidents were unique because the group left sheets of paper at the drop, taking credit for the incident. According to members of the Rensselaer Drop Squad, taking credit started out as a joke, but the group adopted claiming responsibility as a trademark. LeMaistre described LP records that were dropped down the stairwell with the group's logo and a song list on the center labels.
The dropping of parts of an office chair prompted a Letter to the Editor in the Poly from the Environmental Services cleaning crew on duty that night.
LeMaistre also noted that the group was unique for videotaping their pranks. Members of the group assert that they probably would not have been caught if an edited videotape had not been brought to Public Safety by the disaffected member of the group.
According to the other members, the "master" of the Drop Squad was angry that he had not been included in the final drop, which consisted of over a hundred hamburgers from McDonald's. He then decided to bring one of the videos to public safety, and gave the names of the other members as well.
"The admitted to pranks we were not even aware of," said Denn. The pumpkins at Halloween was the first incident they were responsible for, according to members.
One videotape contained a scene where the camera zoomed in on the Public Safety building while "Three Blind Mice" played in the background.
"If anybody had been in the stairwell, there would have been a nasty accident," said LeMaistre. The group offered that they had posted watches to prevent people from walking into the stairwell during a drop, and the acoustics are so good that they would here anybody entering. But, Denn notes, somebody would not necessarily back up just because somebody up above says to. The aftermath of the drop is also a hazard, LeMaistre continued, because of slippery stairs or shards of plastic or glass lying around.
The drops have also caused a great deal of inconvenience for the Environmental Services crews who have to clean up the mess. "It's one thing when its just a prank, but its another when it really makes a mess," said LeMaistre. He estimates that each drop may have taken up to ten hours of work to clean up.
Members of the Drop Squad noted that there is always an open door into the CII at any time of the day or night. Public Safety officers have patrolled the building in the past, but this was abandoned because the size of the building precludes effective security, said Denn. The building is wired for security cameras, said LeMaistre, but there is not enough money in the budget to purchase cameras.
Members of the Drop Squad insist that it was not very organized, but rather a bunch of guys on the same floor that spontaneously got together on various nights to go down to the stairwell.
"We won't be dropping anything for a while," said members.
* * * * *
To the Editor:
Dave Flanagan's article, "'Drop Squad' apprehended," published in the April 14, 1993 edition of the Polytechnic stated that "the 'master' of the Drop Squad was angry that he had not been included in the final drop... He then decided to bring one of the videos to public safety, and gave the names of the other members as well." This information is incorrect and may have resulted from my lack of clarity during an interview with Flanagan. The "master" was angry as stated, but he did not turn in the tape. He called Department of Public Safety (D.P.S.) and turned the Drop Squad in. After his call, my dormitory associate questioned me, and I gave him a specially-edited tape which showed the "master" dropping various objects down the stairwell. The tape was then given to D.P.S. by the associate. The tape did not include the "three blind mice" footage as the article stated. That footage was generated as an inside joke after a D.P.S. cruiser came within feet of us after the Christmas tree drop.
The "master" received this name after claiming that he was the best "dropper" in the group. He actually dropped everything except for the typewriter and the hamburgers. The "master" was not expelled as the article stated. I was expelled (the mastermind - not the "master").
Also, the article stated that action had been taken against us by the Institute Judicial Board. This is incorrect. The Judicial Board only hears appeals after students are punished by the Dean of Students Office. Since no one on the Drop Squad chose to appeal the Associate Dean's decision, the Judicial Board was never involved.
Finally, I would like to apologize to the Environmental Services cleaning crews. Several other members of the Drop Squad who were assigned to perform Community Service have told me how well they have been treated by the night cleaning crew, even after the mess that our drops caused. It was never our intent to inconvenience hard-working and genuinely nice individuals like the night cleaning crew.
Rensselaer Drop Squad