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Dartmouth Students Seek Clemency, Readmission After Fire

  • A fire broke out in a central common area located on the fourth floor of Morton dormitory and extended partially to the adjacent hallways. The four-alarm fire brought assistance from fire departments in Claremont and Vermont. (Valley News - John Happel) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 11/14/2016 11:38:42 PM
Modified: 11/15/2016 10:50:44 AM

Hanover — Two Dartmouth College students have taken responsibility for starting a fire that gutted the Morton Hall dormitory, and are circulating an online petition asking the school to reverse its decision to expel them.

The undergraduates, Sebastian Lim and Daniel Ro, said they wanted to “publicly apologize” for causing the fire in the East Wheelock Street residence hall that left the building uninhabitable and displaced scores of people last month.

State fire investigators said the blaze began after a hibachi-style grill was left unattended on the roof. Dartmouth officials at the time said that using such an appliance was against college policy and that students were not allowed on roofs.

Ro and Lim this month launched a petition on thepetitionsite.com saying they were expelled for their role in the fire, and asking for clemency.

“There is no question we made a horrible mistake and are willing to accept the consequences,” the petition says. “The expulsion, however, is based, in part, on the grounds that we pose a threat to the community at large. While we made a mistake that could have potentially injured people, it was just that — a mistake.”

Lim confirmed on Monday that the petition was his, but had no further comment.

As of Monday afternoon, more than 1,100 people had signed and many, such as a student identifying him- or herself as “Regina Y.,” left messages of support.

“As someone who was directly impacted by the fire, I have no hard feelings at all,” the student wrote. “This was a completely honest mistake, and they shouldn't be expelled for something done without malicious intent.”

College spokeswoman Diana Lawrence declined to comment on the students’ status, or even on whether they remained enrolled at school, but said petitions were unlikely to play a role in Dartmouth’s disciplinary system

“The fire in Morton Hall was a very serious incident that endangered the lives of students, staff, and first responders and caused extensive damage to Dartmouth property,” she said in an email. “The college is committed to following its disciplinary process in all cases; the petition will not play a role in that process.”

Rob Wolfe can be reached at 603-727-3242 or at rwolfe@vnews.com.
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