Daily Collegian March 12, 13, 14, 1979
Alternative lifestyles marks Pierpont's past
Editor's note: This is the first of a three-part series on Pierpont dormitory in the Southwest Residential Area, past, present and future.
By JAMES CARTER
and ANDREW MIGA
Old traditions die hard. It's a lesson Pierpont residents have learned in dealing with a past rooted in late '60s counterculture.
"When I first got there it was like the corner drug store" said Charles Adams, director of the Pierpont-based Inquiry Program.
"There was a lots of counterculture activity that invited experimentation," he added.
The Inquiry Program and its predecessor Project 10, which began in 1968, were total living and learning programs designed to encourage critical thought and independence. Courses taught in Pierpont included Communitarian Living, Drugs and Society and the Literature of Utopia.
There are different kinds of alternative lifestyles," said Adams, "there is one kind of person who seriously seeks to find solutions to problems, the other kind of person uses the alternative lifestyle as an umbrella to do anything at all."
There was a sense this was a special place that should have special accommodations made," Adams said.
James Matlack, Southwest master director, noted Pierpont's strong political activism.
" Some people have characterized the dorm's tradition as anti-authoritarian and anarchistic."
Pierpont was the focus of two major drug raids in 1971, according to Sgt Philip J. Cavanaugh of the UMass police department.
"It certainly wasn't the only trouble dorm," said Cavanaugh but from '69 to '71 there were certain individual residents and outsiders who built a substantial trafficking in illegal substances. From there it mushroomed that this was the place to buy drugs.
"There was enough debilitating drug behavior that students, themselves, thought it had gone top far," said Adams, "the community was not working because of too many parasites and not enough responsible students."
Nevertheless Pierpont, a hotbed of campus political activism, produced many vocal student leaders on issues ranging from race to Vietnam, according to Matlack.
In 1971, Project 10 made a conscious effort to attract responsible students interested improving the quality of life in the dorm.
But the notion of Project 10 lingered so that it attracted anti-authoritarian students," said Adams. "The reputation had carried on."
Tomorrow: Present-day Pierpont
Pierpont retains sense of individualism
Editor's Note: This is the second of a three-part
series on Pierpont dormitory in the Southwest
By JAMES CARTER
and ANDREW MIGA
Though the pulse of student activism slowed across campuses in the recent years, Pierpont retained a strong sense of individualism and anti-authoritarianism. The inevitable result was a conflict between the dorm and the administration as it attempts to enforce university regulations.
In Fall 1977 the dorm was successfully barricaded by residents to prevent the university from placing temporary boarders in areas such as lounges. After a trouble-plagued Halloween party, conflicts continued between the administration and the dorm, climaxing in the occupation of the Whitmore Administration Building. At issue was a plan proposed by Southwest Master Director James Matlack to remove juniors and Seniors from Pierpont.
"Matlack wanted to throw juniors and seniors out of what we considered to be home." Said resident Mark Filiault. "It was a campus-wide undertaking and we had the support of a lot of people on campus."
"It was an extraordinarily stressful position to be a head of residence at Pierpont,'' said Matlack, "To survive was to back off. I didn't want to pick a head of residence to be chewed up an broken by Thanksgiving."
Pierpont has had four heads of residence in three years.
In the Fall of 1978, Tom Whitford was chosen as head of residence. "As soon as I went in, some people resented me because I was head of residence," said Whitford, "Pierpont was a house that had 10 years of tradition. Freedom, drugs, anarchy, and individual expression were all components of that tradition."
"The basic things that most dorms had, I had to fight to get," explained Whitford, He cited enforcing the pet policy and dorm security as some examples.
"But I had a lot of students working with me trying to make positive changes," he noted.
"The Pierpont tradition can become a part of you as soon as you move into the dorm. It's the kind of thing that's reinforced both inside and outside the dorm."
Whitford said he had trouble enforcing rules because anarchy seemed to be built into the tradition. He said he did feel support from a majority of residents, though a "vehement minority" always stood in opposition.
"It was a frustrating job. After what happened to me I don't think it would be fair to have another head of residence there for at least a while."
Whitford ended his career as Pierpont as head of residence in January with the torching of his door which was termed by police as an attempted homicide by arson. An investigation into the incident continues.
Tomorrow: Pierpont's future
Pierpont seeks better image
Editor's note; This is the last of a three-part
Series on Pierpont dormitory in Southwest
By JAMES CARTER and ANDREW MIGA
"The future of Pierpont is up in the air at this point" according to Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Dennis L. Madson, "There have been a number of suggestions but no decision will be made until after the pending investigation."
Madson added that personality is Lloyd Adalist would remain as part-time acting head of residence at Pierpont.. Adalist was appointed to the position after the "attempted murder by arson" of former head of residence Tom Whitford last January.
Following the attempted murder, Art Clifford of the UMass News Bureau was quoted in a press report as saying "The lifestyle of students there (Pierpont) is representative of the alternative lifestyles of the late 60s.... it's like leftover flower children.
The quote reinforces an image Pierpont residents are working to dispel.
"If the university wouldn't keep publishing things about reputation, maybe we wouldn't have such a bad reputation," said Soo Thomas, a resident assistant.
"The tell us the only way to change our image is to clean up our act", said Maggie Carson, a resident assistant, "But right now it couldn't get much cleaner and still remain a college dorm in 1979."
"I know politically they are fighting for their life," noted Sgt. Philip J. Cavanaugh, "I see definite beginnings of a change in my dealings with Pierpont residents, those who want to stand up and be counted as sensible, reasonable, and non-inflammatory."
Recently a dorm government was approved by the dorm. Previously Pierpont had community meetings with rotating moderators and little continuing responsibility.
"A lot of things Tom Whitford instituted are still going on now," said Carson, "Things like house government, dorm security, and little things lie a TV, a pool table, and intramural sports. They're the kind of things that really make a difference."
"It wasn't the dorm that burned Tom out," said Becky Louis, "It was a few individuals and that's what upsets people about the publicity. I think most people would like to have Tom back here."
“Pierpont seems committed to good order now," said James Matlack, master director of the Southwest residential college, "They're proving the negative image wrong by working at it."