Stress relief stunt relieves student of campus housing

Abbie VanSickle

Mike Sherman was forced to leave campus housing Saturday after a Reading Week stunt raised some burning questions for residents living in Willard Residential College.

After finishing a paper, Sherman, a Weinberg sophomore, decided he needed some stress relief, so he went to the roof of Willard and set one of his course packs on fire.

“I went on the roof,” said Sherman. “I had a course packet. I decided it would be safer to do it on the roof than on the ground where there would be wood chips. I lit it on fire.”

“It was a 12-year-old thing to do,” a Willard resident said. “However, several people have been caught smoking pot and worse, and they’ve just gotten reprimanded.”

But Willard President Claire Wilmoth said Sherman should have thought before he acted.

“Mike is a friend of mine. He was a valuable asset to the dorm, and I’m upset to see him go, but I can’t think of a better reason to kick someone out of the dorm,” said Wilmoth, a Music freshman.

Sherman said he and 10 other students watched the packet go up in flames.

“It was kind of a hall community activity,” Sherman said. “Then the RAs showed up.”

The resident assistants went up to the roof to extinguish the fire, said Sherman. They called the Evanston Police and Fire departments and hosed down the fire.

Although no alarms were set off, Fire Department officials were concerned that the tar covering the roof would ignite and cause an explosion. But the blaze was extinguished with no damage.

The RAs filed a report about the fire with Undergraduate Residential Life. Sherman was called in for a meeting with Residential Life and was asked to leave campus housing.

Gregg Kindle, director of Residential Life, declined to comment on the situation.

“(Residential Life) gave me time to find a place,” Sherman said. “I had an issue with furniture. The university said they would lend me furniture.”

Sherman was able to find an apartment near campus and recently moved in, NU furniture and all. He did not receive a desk, he said, which upset him.

Sherman said he had not considered the consequences of setting the fire.

“Obviously not,” he said. “People do this stuff all the time and get away with it. We had a fire extinguisher – that made it safer than smoking. I’ve never had a problem with fire. I’m perfectly capable of lighting paper on fire. It’s not like you need to be a Boy Scout. “

Sherman also was ambivalent about the seriousness of the charge.

“In the grand scheme of things, there are more important things to think about,” he said.

Willard resident Nihal Patel agreed that the fire was not serious enough to merit Sherman’s expulsion from the dorm. “To kick him out seems kind of ridiculous,” said Patel, a Weinberg freshman.