University ends evacuation, most students allowed to re-enter Harbin

In an email sent to the Georgetown community, Vice President for Student Affairs Todd Olson announced that Harbin Hall has re-opened for most residents.

“The evacuation has now ended and students are returning to the building,” Olson wrote in the email. “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.”

Earlier today, Olson told Harbin residents that the building would remain closed until authorities gave the University an “all clear sign.”

The email also confirmed that drug being produced on the ninth floor of the dormitory was dimethyltryptamine. According to Olson, “there was never a health risk to students in Harbin,” and all hazardous materials have been removed from the room. However, some rooms on the ninth floor still remain off-limits, according to source in the Housing Office.

Unsurprisingly, the language of the email suggests that the arrested freshmen, Charlie Smith and John Romano, will be severely punished.

“The use, production and distribution of illegal drugs are issues we take very seriously and are violations of the student code of conduct,” Olson wrote.

Olson’s full email:

Dear Members of the Campus Community,

I am writing to update you on today’s evacuation of Harbin Hall.  The evacuation has now ended and students are returning to the building.  All residents 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.

Law enforcement authorities continue to actively investigate this incident, with our close cooperation.  If any member of the university community has information in connection with this incident, please contact the Department of Public Safety at 202-687-4343.

We appreciate the work of the many individuals, including the University’s emergency response team, who worked to meet the needs of students and ensure the safety of our community in responding to today’s incident.


Todd A. Olson, Ph.D.

Vice President of Student Affairs

Photo: Max Blodgett

27 Comments on “University ends evacuation, most students allowed to re-enter Harbin

  1. Pingback: Vox Populi » Send your photos of today’s chaos at Harbin Vox!

  2. Hooray for the War on Drugs! Thanks for keeping us safe from ourselves, DEA and Federal Government!

  3. oh its okay if kids take alcohol, dont worry about all the harbin rooms with natty light and smirnoff in them. but god forbid some kid smoke a little pot or take some other psychedelic. Especially dmt, which already occurs naturally in your body. Look it up, its literally the neurotransmitter that causes dreams. Fucking hypocrisy.

  4. @so what,
    If they want to get that shit from a dealer, I don’t really give a shit. But in trying this operation, they were endangering their lives and the lives of their fellow floor and building-mates. There is no fucking excuse for this, nor is there any reason this should be tolerated in a University dorm not just by the university, not just MPD, but fellow students. I hope these fools get the book thrown at them. There is no excuse

  5. To their defense, they were in fact very nice kids. They are teenagers, they made very poor mistakes, this one happened to be extremely serious, but it should not mean that they are terrible and horrible people. They happened to get involved in the wrong stuff. Of course they should receive punishment, but ripping on the kids’ solves nothing, I am sure they are sorry for all the trouble they caused.

  6. If they were sorry, it would have been an accident…this was obviously intentional.

  7. Yeah obviously…? I’m saying I’m sure they are sorry because they didnt realize the mistakes they were making at the time? It took them to get caught to realize their mistakes…that is how life works.

  8. Long story short, drugs are illegal. Whether you are for the legalization of drugs or not, guess what? Right now they are illegal. If you do a crime, you get punished. It doesn’t matter how nice or sorry you are. They are only sorry that they got caught.

  9. Okay…who isn’t sorry after they get caught? It’s not like they were intelligent enough to have the foresight to realize that they would likely get caught, and in the process endanger their fellow students and give their school a bad reputation.

  10. I only say they are nice so people chill with the comments on how they are terrible people. They aren’t. These kids were genuinely nice. They deserve punishment of course, drugs are illegal. I have been told all day my own health could have been in danger living so close to them, but I am not going to rip on the kids personally. I’m only gonna rip on them for their dumb decision.

  11. @ Harbin Niner,

    I don’t think anyone is saying that on a typical day, they weren’t decent enough kids. I don’t think anyone is saying they were awful human beings. I don’t think anyone is saying that they are condemned to hell.

    But what a lot of people are saying—rightly so—is that they put lives in danger, they disgraced our university, and they did so in the pursuit of an absurd, selfish, criminal endeavor.

    I don’t want them to be tortured or killed. I don’t want their lives ruined forever. But I do want their lives to be significantly altered because of this outlandish lapse in judgment that they made. They should never have a Georgetown degree. They should never have the opportunity to endanger Georgetown students ever again. They should have to work much much harder in the future to regain the trust of any potential educator or employer.

    Most of all, they should get any treatment necessary so they no longer look to ridiculous lab-made substances in order to be content with their lives. If you’re at Georgetown, and you need drugs to be happy, then you need help. I hope they get that help. I hope Georgetown sees to it that they get such help, but I also hope that they get it somewhere else.

  12. what don’t you guys understand about the fact that at no point was no one else in danger. Read todd olson’s email. There were no harmful chemicals involved. This wasnt a meth lab.

  13. @ So what says: I’m afraid that you are mistaken. Dr. Olson never said that there were not harmful chemicals. He wrote, “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.”

    This statement shows that there were, in fact, “potential contaminants” that, blessedly, were either in not enough quantity or for some other reason did not adversely impact the health of students outside the room. If the perpatrators had continued to amass chemicals or released more noxious fumes into Harbin before they were stopped, this could have been a very different situation.

    It is true, of course, that this was not a meth lab. But, we should just not assume based off that statement that this incident was any less dangerous than a meth lab. Without more information on the chemicals they had and in which quantities we cannot know.

  14. Maybe they were “nice” kids. I wouldn’t know; I’ve never met them. Frankly, Harbin Niner wouldn’t know; s/he’s only known them for two months. Yeah, we all do stupid things at eighteen, but some stupid things are a big deal and others are not. Running a drug lab out of your freshman dorm is a big deal. It’s irresponsible and dangerous – and yes, causing danger to yourself matters (University maybe liable in a lawsuit?), not to mention the danger to anyone who might have bought this stuff from them, not just from the drug itself but from the way it was prepared – and completely illegal. I don’t wish them harm. I’m glad they didn’t harm their bodies with chemicals. But this was criminally bad judgement, and they deserve to be punished for it.

  15. are they gonna get kicked out? the 2 ones that go to Georgetown? what about the one who goes to U Richmond..will his school find out? will parents be notified about this?

  16. Well, considering they’ve been arrested, I’m sure that Richmond and the parents will find out. As to expulsion, we’ll have to wait and see.

  17. open the door
    get on the floor
    everybody walk the dinosaur

  18. What facts do we actually know about this situation? The authorities have spoke with both rash (incorrect) judgements and ambiguity so that we’re just constantly running on recycled information that has been proven untrue or not proven true. This is a case of pure sensationalism and everyone is acting in a way that is utterly despicable to the character of Georgetown. The reaction to these kids’ supposed actions by the community is what will destroy the namesake in the end of this whole situation, not what these kids were doing. It’s very easy to feel so antagonizing and limit your understanding of a matter when you’re in no way associated with these kids, but we have to try to. To you, they’re kids who made you wake up early, and caused potential risks to your health. But the university woke you up early, and there was no hazard to your health. You’d all rather seem to argue those same initial arguments you made because apparently it’s too difficult to be civil and try to understand that there are always two sides to ever story. I know Georgetown students that are capable of making this stupid of a decision, but from the few times I’ve met John, it seems like there has to be more to this story than is actually available right now. The only people I would think are capable of doing something this idiotic are the ones who think it right to rush to holier than thou judgements on character about kids they don’t know, based on information they don’t know to be defining of the situation. How about we hold off on the bitter assault and witch hunt until we know actual truths about the situation? You guys don’t have nearly enough information to make the claims that you’re making about these kids. People in this community are astonishingly sure of themselves it seems, and would rush to any opportunity to demonstrate their public voice.

  19. @ Hold On,
    If you got into Georgetown, then I’d also “demonstrate [my] public voice” about the flaws in our admissions process.

  20. Wait, Tim, so now you’re accusing me, because our opinions on this matter differ, of not even having deserved entry into this institution? What do you want, hegemony? Do you want us all to look in the mirror and see you? This is ridiculous. Not only are you making bold claims about something that you obviously don’t have the facts to back up, but you’re attempting to insult people by way of the same, ignorant though proceses. You characterize this university well Tim.

  21. I think it has a little more to do with your grammar mistakes than your point of view.

  22. Who the fuck cares whether or not I’m wording my sentences correctly? It’s not pertinent. You’re only proving my point that you’re opinion has no validity. You’d rather remark on how I say something than what I say. This whole situation has made me lose respect for so many people besides the two kids who were implicated. So many reactions are just fucking absurd. Step outside of your bubble and off of your pedestal.

  23. @ Hold On,
    First, you write like an 8th grader pretending to be a college student.

    Second, people who are reacting negatively to these kids are not in any “bubble.” The “bubble” is for those of you who think that if you’re 18 or 19, you can commit dangerous felonies and not suffer serious, life-altering consequences. The police and Georgetown have released facts about what happened. What more do you want before we make up our minds about it? Should we wait for the three morons who did this to confirm the story? Frankly, I don’t care what they say. I’ll accept the facts as reported by the University, other students, and neutral media outlets. No, the reports haven’t been perfect, but they’ve provided enough for us to draw our own conclusions. Fortunately, most people have exhibited enough common sense to conclude that these guys were entirely wrong and should be punished.

    The irony of accusing me of having “ignorant though proceses” is stunning.

  24. @ Tim
    Maybe I write like an 8th grader pretending to be a college student, but I didn’t think this was a forum for recognizing intellectual merit so much as it was a place for people to voice their concerns about the situation at hand.

    Yah, dude. I agree that common sense allows us to derive from the information given to us that a logical conclusion would be to recognize that these guys were entirely wrong and should be punished. I do not agree that common sense allows us to accept that the information given to us is in any way exhaustive of the facts concerning the situation.

    You’re missing the point of what I’m saying entirely because your purview doesn’t seem to allow for looking past the little information you’ve been given by an esteemed authority and to accept that objective consideration disallows you to make such antagonizing claims other than through pure speculation. You’re one of those people that psychological studies have focused on who can’t understand the implications of a situation other than how they are presented to you by some form of authority.

    “The police and Georgetown have released facts about what happened. What more do you want before we make up our minds about it?” (Which you follow with some attribution of stupidity to the character of these kids to validate your sensationalist opinion.)

    Go ahead and accept the facts as reported by the University and various unreliable sources. I’m not saying that the information is incorrect (although they’ve already shown that they’re not entirely reliable for information), and I’m not saying that these kids might not be completely guilty of all blame placed upon them. But I do believe that there are still a handful of possible ways that this whole thing could play out. We’re not sure of the levels of involvement for each student, and we can’t automatically attribute blame to the collective of the three.

    And when it comes down to it, the fact that you’re still regarding the situation as “dangerous” shows that you haven’t kept up completely with the facts of the situation that are already available. If it were the case that these kids were attempting to make meth, I’d obviously be on your side because that would have put a ridiculous amount of people at risk. But the fact that the DEA already released an official statement saying that no one was put at risk by the action of these kids, maybe we need to reconsider exactly how this situation should be addressed. Just because MPD made an incorrect claim about what they were doing does not mean that the view should persist among the student body and the media in helping to antagonize and implicate them on unjust grounds.

    You’ve continuously proven that you’re highly influenced by the media and the barbaric nature of this witch hunt, and are incapable of taking a step back and seeing outside of your perspective. I apologize if my grammar or vocabulary somehow makes my stance erroneous to you. But I know I shouldn’t expect to have a civil conversation with someone who writes like a college student that hasn’t progressed past the developmental stages of an eighth grader.

  25. Pingback: Vox Populi » Students charged for manufacturing DMT, arraignment on Monday

  26. there are two ways of making dmt: synthetic and extracting

    synthetic requires a ton of chemicals which would probably be really difficult to obtain, but not impossible… it’s pretty dangerous because of the acidity and strength of these chemicals, not to mention all the chemical reactions which could easily, if screwed up, cause an explosion

    but extracting from plants and other matter is probably just as dangerous… you need stuff like lye (you know, the stuff that burned off brad pitt’s hand in fight club) and naptha (lighter fluid). this method could also lead to dangerous reactions or even possibly an explosion

    so for everyone who claims that these kids didn’t put anyone in danger or for anyone who actually believes todd olsen’s email (which is clearly catered to the parents… because the administration clearly doesn’t even care about its students enough to make sure that the fire alarms work), you’re an idiot.

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