Plimpton House was left trashed and severely vandalized after a large party on the night of Saturday, Nov. 12, and the early morning of Nov. 13.
The worst of the damage occurred in the basement, where three sections of drywall were bashed in using brooms, mops, and even the bottom of a table, warping support beams and potentially damaging electric wiring.
The damage was “an extreme act of vandalism and something that has not been seen on campus in several years,” said Chief of Police John Carter, who added that the repairs are estimated to cost more than $5,000.
Although many students suspect that the damage was caused by members of the football team, no conclusive culpability has been established. Senior Associate Dean of Students Dean Gendron has begun an internal investigation — known as a Community Standards Adjudication Process (CSAP) — into the matter, and the Amherst College Police Department is conducting a parallel investigation.
Dean of Students and Chief Student Affairs Officer Liz Agosto connected the act to an ongoing problem with vandalism on campus, which she said had cost the college a quarter of a million dollars in the five years prior to 2021. Just the previous weekend, Morris Pratt Hall was closed to registered events for the rest of the semester after extensive damage to bathrooms during a party.
Plimpton residents described a rowdier-than-normal party on Saturday night. The gathering began as a volleyball team event, and though the space was reserved for a party of just 20 people, Plimpton Community Advisor William Prince ’25 said that by 11 p.m. the common room, entry room, and library were entirely filled with people.
Multiple Plimpton residents and party attendees reported that a large number of football players were also at the party, which occurred just a few hours after the team lost to its archrival Williams.
When Plimpton residents awoke on Sunday morning, they found their building trashed. Prince said that, on the first floor, “you couldn’t step without knocking over a bottle of something.” He also said he found a red Solo cup full of urine on the landing of the stairs.
In an email to Plimpton residents on Nov. 13, Community Development Coordinator for North Campus Doug Michaels described the damage. He wrote that “exit signs have been torn off of walls” and that “books in the library have been severely damaged.” The Plimpton library contains a number of old books and a fireplace constructed using bricks and wood taken from Isaac Newton’s home in London. The fireplace did not appear to be damaged.
Prince remembered thinking that the damage to the upper floors was not unusual for the morning after a party. But then he saw the basement.
Gaping holes had been smashed into three of four walls in the largest room in the basement, through which residents must walk to access their kitchen and do their laundry. Crumbling drywall, Solo cups, crumpled-up beer cans, and empty Red Bulls littered the ground. A table lay upside-down on the floor with its leg askew, seemingly from being smashed into the wall. A number of brooms and mops leaned up against the wall, the butts of which had clearly been used to smash small holes into the ceiling.
Gendron said that there was a possibility that the electrical conduit behind the drywall had been damaged, which would further increase the price of the repairs.
Prince said that the damage obviously went far beyond the sort of mess inevitably left behind by a large party. “Trashing Plimpton with bottles is one thing,” he said, “but actually destroying property — that definitely escalated it.”
“This was just, to me, beyond blatant disrespect towards the residents of Plimpton,” he said. “We’re gonna have to f — ing live with this.”
Prince also expressed sympathy for the Plimpton custodian, Ath Chea, who had to clean up much of the upstairs mess on Monday morning. “I don’t think it should be his job to pick up after the students,” he said.
One Plimpton resident, who requested to remain anonymous, citing fears of retribution, said that it was “definitely upsetting to see the space where I live be disrespected so much.”
“It definitely still hasn’t been fully cleaned up on the first floor,” said the student in an interview on Nov. 15. “The floor and the tables are covered by this weird crud and hairs and alcohol spilled everywhere.”
Prince was especially upset that Plimpton residents would have to deal with damage that they themselves did not cause. Prince said that some of his residents told him that the damage in the basement was caused by members of the football team.
When reached for comment, Flynn McGilvray ’23, the captain of the football team, wrote that he “did not have any information regarding the damage that happened at Plimpton.”
“I am just disappointed this would happen on our campus,” McGilvray wrote.
In an interview with The Student, Gendron confirmed that the football team was an initial focus of the investigation, although he added that the team was not the only focus.
On Tuesday, Nov. 15, Gendron sent an email to “individuals or groups who may be directly or indirectly associated with the happenings in Plimpton,” asking them to fill out a survey about what they saw or did on the night of Nov. 12. He told The Student that this email was sent to all Plimpton residents, all individuals whose ID cards were used to unlock doors at Plimpton the night of the party, and the entire football team.
Gendron said that the football team was included because “it was brought to our attention by multiple separate independent sources of rumor — not substantiated facts — that members of the football team were seen in some significant number there.”
Gendron’s survey was the beginning of a CSAP into the matter that he expects may take a while to come to a conclusion, especially because it is starting during the busiest part of the semester.
If an individual, group of individuals, student organization, or sports team is deemed responsible for the damage following the investigation, they will go before a panel composed of students, staff, and faculty, which will determine their culpability. The responsible party or parties may at that point be asked to cover the repair costs, said Gendron.
In the meantime, Plimpton residents must continue their daily routines amid the damage. “It’s really just a gross space to have to move through,” said the anonymous resident.
There is also the possibility that future repairs to the basement area will impair residents’ access to the kitchen and laundry machines.
Agosto said that the timeline for repairs remains unclear as the college assesses the damage to the structures beyond the drywall.
Going forward, Agosto said that the Office of Student Affairs will “work with our campus operations partners to minimize disruption and will communicate with the residents of Plimpton about next steps and disruptions.”