A university hearing board sentenced the two students who admitted taking the Healy Tower’s clock hands to honor a university tradition last September to community service and disciplinary probation, the students said in an interview yesterday.
The charges of theft, damage and destruction, defacement and trespassing in a restricted area carried sentences for Andrew Hamblen (SFS ’07) and Wyatt Gjullin (COL ’09) of 75 and 100 community service hours, respectively.
The theft of the clock hands qualified as a Category B violation under the Student Code of Conduct, which states that the theft of items worth less than $500 carries sanctions ranging from probation to academic suspension.
The Office of Student Conduct also placed the pair on disciplinary probation for a year and required each to write an essay on “more constructive university traditions,” according to the two students.
Disciplinary probation is an official disciplinary warning status during which any further misconduct could result in suspension.
Although the two said they felt the punishment was severe, they admitted it could have been worse.
“I didn’t really take into consideration the implications it could have on my future,” Hamblen said. “They threatened to suspend us for a couple years.”
Gjullin and Hamblen said that the university should have taken into account the tradition that surrounded the act of stealing the clock tower hands. Both noted that stealing the hands is listed as one of the “Top 100 Hundred Things to do at Georgetown,” according to SMURF, the student organization devoted to informing students about smart lifestyle choices and underrepresented facts.
The pair also said that the act is often promoted on campus tours. Hamblen said he believed the tradition is tacitly supported by the university.
“The university hypes it up,” Hamblen said.
Hamblen and Gjullin emphasized that they acted without malice. They said that their only intent was “to further a Georgetown tradition that we love,” Hamblen said.
“I think it’s a great tradition but all great things have a tendency to get bogged down in bureaucracy and liability,” Gjullin said.
The pair attributed the discrepancy between their community service hours to “mitigating circumstances.” Hamblen better demonstrated the effect that the tradition had on his decision to take the hands, they said.
Hamblen and Gjullin said they entered Healy in late September by scaling construction scaffolding in Dahlgren Quad and climbed through an already broken window into the building’s fourth floor.
Hamblen and Gjullin said that they had planned to take the Healy hands without regard to the scaffolding but agreed that it certainly made the task easier.
Inside the clock tower, the students explored what they described as mostly unfinished rooms filled with construction equipment.
Hamblen said that entering Healy proved easier than expected, saying that “people go up there all the time.” After first attempting to remove the hands from the east face of the tower, the students successfully detached the hands from the building’s west facade, he said.
Gjullin said that one of the most memorable aspects of the experience was the view from atop Healy.
“It is one of the best views on campus,” he said. “It’s surreal.”
Hamblen and Gjullin confessed to the theft in early October after their roommate, Matt Bjonerud (MSB ’07), turned the hands into Department of Public Safety officials.
Both said they planned to return the clock hands undamaged to the university but were apprehended by DPS Officer Ray Eddy before they were able to do so.
Hamblen said that although he and Gjullin considered following the full tradition of mailing the hands to the Vatican, they did not want to risk losing the hands and having to pay for their replacement.
“We didn’t have the money for that,” Hamblen said.
To prevent future thefts, Hamblen said that the university should open up the tower to student tours on Traditions Day in order to remove the mystery surrounding the campus landmark.
“Why not have one day where people can go up there so they are not so mystified by it?” Hamblen asked.
Todd Olson, vice president for student affairs, which oversees the Office of Student Conduct, declined to comment for this story.
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