Olson emails parents on today’s “very unusual” situation

Shortly after sending an email to the Georgetown community this evening, Vice President of Student Affairs Todd Olson sent a message to the parents of students about the arrest of two Harbin Hall residents.

Olson also emphasized the rarity of discovering a drug lab in a dorm room.

“This kind of incident is very unusual in our community,” he wrote in the email. “Please know that we work actively to educate our students and to enforce our policies and the law.”

The majority of the text of the email reflected the earlier message, which confirmed the production of DMT on the ninth floor of the dormitory.

“Please know that the DEA has informed us that there was never a health risk to students in Harbin,” Olson wrote.

Olson’s full email:

Dear Parents,

I am writing to update you on an incident that took place on campus today.  Please know that students remain safe and campus is operating normally.

As you may be aware, we evacuated Harbin Hall early this morning after the Department of Public Safety and District of Columbia Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) responded to calls complaining of a strange odor on the 9th floor.  Our actions today, as in any emergency situation, were directed by law enforcement authorities – in this case MPD and D.C. Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department.  We know that residents of Harbin Hall experienced inconveniences by not being able to access their living space for most of the day and we are grateful for their cooperation.

We appreciate the many friends and colleagues who worked to assist temporarily displaced students throughout the day.  Provost O’Donnell has consulted with academic leaders on the Main Campus and asked for their help to support students whose weekend has been disrupted.

The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) has confirmed that an illegal drug, Dimethyltryptamine (DMT), was being produced in one residence hall room and was the cause of today’s incident. Please know that the DEA has informed us that there was never a health risk to students in Harbin, including those on the same floor, beyond those who lived in the room.  Hazardous materials experts have now removed all potential contaminants.

The use, production and distribution of illegal drugs are issues we take very seriously and are violations of the student code of conduct.  MPD has arrested three individuals, two of whom are Georgetown undergraduates.  They remain in police custody.

This kind of incident is very unusual in our community.  Please know that we work actively to educate our students and to enforce our policies and the law.  If you have questions or concerns related to this matter you may contact the Office of Student Affairs at (202) 687-4056 until midnight tonight or tomorrow from 10am – 4pm Eastern time, or during business hours in the week ahead.

The safety of your students has been and continues to be our top priority.  The  University’s emergency response team, and many others on campus, have been working to keep our community safe and secure.


Todd A. Olson, Ph.D.

Vice President of Student Affairs

Photo: John Flanagan

8 Comments on “Olson emails parents on today’s “very unusual” situation

  1. I am often a critic of University emails, but this one seems completely appropriate and well written. I am confident Georgetown will rebound from a less-than-great weekend of media attention.

  2. Things seem to have settled out, unfortunately with too much media attention. Sorry for the Harbin freshman having to go thru today’s ordeal, but very happy there were no casualities other than the kids who made a major mistake in thinking this was the way to begin their Georgetown experience and that they could get away with it. Sorry also for them, they will pay for their mistakes, and their parents, who I’m certain are in pain right now. GU will go on and the vast majority of students are hard working and exceptional kids who strive to do their best academically, have fun as they should, but know when to stop — right? Those kids that did make these huge mistakes — today, last night? — were certainly not typical of the high caliber of students at Georgetown, and we all know that. Just know that we parents are SO proud of you all and know that sometimes you will “screw up”. That’s what college is all about. Just know that most of you are doing the right thing, most of the time, lol. A Mom

  3. As Interested Parent suggests, parents need to talk to their kids about the need to temper their drinking and partying with some measure of appropriateness and cool. Am an alum from the early 90s and we didn’t drink and party as the kids today do (I live in the neighborhood and see it every weekend) or at least we knew how to keep our dirty laundry. The university should also provide uidance to students on this front and not just assume that all kids have parents who will guide them appropriately. Isn’t that what Georgetown is all about?

  4. i think im most concerned about the failed fire alarms…

  5. Second that. Old folks been saying the same thing as long as there’s been people.

  6. Are you people nuts? Drinking and partying are one thing, but these boys were so stupid on a much higher level! Trying to chemically make drugs in your freshman dorm room? Couldn’t they have started with planting marijuana? These boys were just beyond immature, and stupid. I am wondering where they grew up, what do their parents do, what lawyers did they hire, how nervous GU is for a lawsuit?

  7. Pingback: Vox Populi » Washington Post reports that K2 tip, not “strange odor,” led to Harbin arrests

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