Hotel: Pregaming Tufts students, inadequate bus service to blame for out-of-control bash

Officials at the Westin Copley Place say that drunken Tufts students who left the hotel lobby filled with empty nips and urine in February have forced it to increase security for all future college events. Well, except for the Tufts Winter Bash, which they said they will never allow back, even if the university decides to rescind its decision to cancel it permanently.

The officials made their comments at a hearing by the Boston Licensing Board on citations issued by police for the now infamous Feb. 1 soiree, which ended with EMTs trying to deal with upwards of 20 students drunk enough to require a trip to the hospital.

Hotel officials said they had elaborate checkpoints in place to screen an estimated 2,600 arriving students, a dedicated "care room," set up at Tufts' insistence to handle people who showed up pre-soused, and that they hired a number of Boston EMTs and firefighters to supplment their own security staff.

In addition, officials said, any students found with nips on them were turned away. Also, students of legal age were directed to a separate room where they could drink, they said, insisting no underage students got drinks at the hotel.

Hotel manager John Wedig said drunken Tufts students showed up throughout the night and that one of the problems was that Tufts was not ferrying the more-or-less able to stand back to Tufts from the care room in university vans waiting outside but was instead letting them congregate there. Then, when Boston Police - summoned by an EMT hired by Tufts - arrived, Tufts didn't have enough buses on hand to get all of the students back to the college, leaving them to mill around the lobby, raising a ruckus and, in some cases, just urinating there.

Wedig, who said he has two college-aged kids of his own, said it pained him to look in the care room and see so many drunken students.

General Manager Michael Jorgensen said the Westin's sister hotel - the Sheraton - had held the Tufts Winter Bash for several years without problems, and this was one reason why the Westin agreed to host it.

One of the police citations for the hotel was that a security guard refused to shut the party when ordered to do so by a Boston police officer. Weddig said the "guard" was actually a food-service worker who had not authority to shut the party and that there was probably just some confusion - he said the worker probably said he needed to get the officer to a hotel official who could order things shut.

The board votes Thursday on what penalties, if any, to levy against the hotel. No Tufts officials attended the hearing.


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