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Thursday, August 13, 2015

Letter causes stir on UMass campus

Also see: Campus Perspective: From Sylvan to Southwest, students discuss Molander
|Podcast: Molander speaks out about his intentions |Molander’s original ‘Friends Club’ letter |Tyler Molander debates withdrawal | Tyler Molander in process of withdrawing | Campus Perspectives: Students respond to letter and reaction | Editorial: Molander misinterpreted by University

A controversial letter – distributed by junior Tyler Molander to a large portion of Southwest Residential Area residents asking students to meet him at the Blue Wall café at 6 p.m. last night – shook up the campus, yesterday.

Sealed with a smiley face and signed with his name, the contents of Molander’s letter were perceived by several University of Massachusetts students – as it circulated the Internet within hours – as having an ominous tone, causing several students to question Molander’s psychological well-being. Students reported taking particular issue with the final line of the letter, in which Molander requested that his acquaintances not show up to the Blue Wall and used the wording, “Please don’t come if you are acquainted with me, I apologize, but just trust me.”

According to Executive Director of News and Media Relations Ed Blaguszewski, “The matter has been assessed by the UMass Police and Dean of Students Office and appropriate action has been taken. Campus safety and security are always of the utmost importance, and those priorities guided the University’s actions in this case.”

Blaguszewski was unable to comment further on the actions taken by either the police or the University.

Paul MacGregor, an employee of UMass Facilities told the Collegian at the Blue Wall at approximately 6 p.m. that “police know about it and they’re taking appropriate action.”

While it is unconfirmed, the Collegian believes there were at least three police officers in plainclothes waiting within the Blue Wall at around 6 p.m., though at the time of publication it was unclear whether the individuals sighted were actually police officers or acting in any way connected to Molander’s letter.

Molander did not show up at the Blue Wall as his letter stated he would, and as of last night, his father John Molander, a resident of Marion, Mass. said he did not know where his son could be found and that he had not spoken to his son.

“It’s a work in progress. I support my son,” said John Molander. “I don’t know what was going through his head.”

According to Blaguszewski, Molander is still enrolled in the University.

The letter – in which Molander outlined his frustrations with the University and explained his wish to find a group of friends “that do not need to rely on common interests or activities in order to foster friendships, love, and new experiences” – was distributed to students’ doors Sunday morning, before it went viral. Molander’s former roommate and friend Justus Quimby, a UMass psychology major, said he believed Molander wanted to knock on doors and ask students to befriend him in this fashion, but chose to form his requests in a letter because knocking on doors would have been too time-consuming.

He told the Collegian that the campus’ reaction was not anticipated by either of them, and that Molander only wished to make more friends.

“I know [Molander] too well to know that there’s no way … I mean, he speaks some strong words, but he’s one of the kindest people I know,” said Quimby.

“He’s very emotional,” continued Quimby. “He’s very interested in the experiences of being human and meeting and knowing other people.”

Molander piloted the University’s Philosophy and Open Thought Club. According to Quimby, the organization was “a success,” but ultimately drew in only like-minded individuals, which was not Molander’s intention.

“[He] wanted to expand the diversity of his social circle,” said Quimby.

Quimby also said that on Sunday, Molander – after realizing there were negative reactions to his letter on campus – went to the University police to discover if he had broken any laws through the distribution of his material. At the time of publication, this information remained unconfirmed.

“I was kind of freaked out,” said Kelly Cline, a hospitality and tourism major, about the letter. Cline said she and her friend went to the Blue Wall yesterday because “we’re curious.”

“We kind of walked in sketched out,” she said.

Other students within the Blue Wall did not feel threatened by Molander’s letter.

“I have a lot of admiration for whoever wrote that letter,” said sophomore anthropology major Sara Mann, who said she received Molander’s letter under her dormitory door. “I had trouble meeting people as well as this school. I feel the air is very judgmental and ‘cliquey.’

“I don’t see why it would [be seen as threatening],” she continued. “It wasn’t directed at any individuals, and I don’t see why anyone would be made to feel personally uncomfortable. Just don’t go meet him.”

At 2 p.m. in a Facebook status, Molander’s profile posted the following message: “Please don’t freak out at the friend club or make a scene. We need to show the administration we just want to be friends.”

“He wants to reach out to that person that might not have a way to make friends … Tyler Molander, he’s a great friend,” said Quimby. “Anyone who wants a great friend should get to know him.”

Alyssa Creamer can be reached at acreamer@student.umass.edu. Katie Landeck can be reached at klandeck@student.umass.edu.

Comments
5 Responses to “Letter causes stir on UMass campus”
  1. Danielle says:

    What an inappropriate article. Only alienating him more. Though the letter was a bit creepy, this article was uncalled for. You’re essentially crucifying him as some kind of wack job or criminal. Once again the Collegian is wildly inappropriate.

  2. Katie says:

    I would have to disagree with Danielle. It’s the Collegian’s job to keep people on campus informed. This particular letter and event caused a stir among campus, and thus is newsworthy. This article, if anything, defends this student’s decision and helps us understand why it may have been blown out of proportion. I don’t see anywhere in this article where it says, “the letter was a bit creepy,” or that he is some, “wack job or criminal” because that is your own interpretation. The article merely states that the letter caused stir among campus. So if anyone is to blame for deeming him as a “wack job” or “criminal” it is certainly not The Collegian.

  3. Ben says:

    I was going to type something up similar to Katie, but didn’t. Glad someone else was thinking it. I can’t say the Collegian is my regular source of news, but I certainly can’t see any crucifixion.

  4. Kay says:

    I actually feel as though this article was generous, both in tone and in content… I personally had been terrified when I read the letter, thinking it meant nothing but a threat of violence in some cryptic way. Clearly that was a wild misinterpretation. But in contrast to my own reaction, I found this article to be extremely positive, on the side of Molander, opening up room for discussion about the idea that he is no threat at all, but rather just a person who worded things very, very badly……… And as this is a matter that consumed much of UMass, it would have been ridiculous for the Collegian to not write about it. I don’t see it as an attack at all. It actually was one thing that helped me relax about the whole matter.

  5. habeeb says:

    hey tyler…you want chee-ken?

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