Brown University News Bureau

The Brown University News Bureau

1998-1999 index

Distributed November 16, 1998
Contact: Mark Nickel

Brown separates student charged in radiation case, limits campus access

Brown officials announced today that the University has separated a graduate student from the campus community and has limited his access to the campus. The graduate student was arrested Friday on felony charges involving radioactive contamination of two fellow students.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- A graduate student who was arrested Friday on felony charges involving radioactive contamination of two other Brown students has been separated from the University community and will no longer be allowed on campus without permission, University officials announced today.

"The University's first concern is for the health and safety of its students. Our policies and procedures allow senior officers to place any student on inactive status and to remove the student from the community in cases where there is a threat to health, safety or well-being of the community or any of its members," said Laura Freid, executive vice president for public affairs and University relations.

The student has also received a notice of trespass, which bars him from campus unless he makes prior arrangements with a dean and secures permission.

The arrested graduate student allegedly removed a radioactive substance from a University laboratory in which he worked and used it to contaminate food which he supplied to a fellow graduate student. That student tested positive for radioactivity when examined by radiation safety officials of the University during a routine laboratory safety procedure. A subsequent examination of her home led to discovery of the contaminated food. Her roommate, a Brown student, was also found to test positive. Neither student suffered serious health consequences.

Cheng Gu was arrested Friday, Nov. 13, and charged with five felony counts: two for assault, two for poisoning, and one for larceny greater than $500. He was released Saturday on his own recognizance. Court orders prohibit him from any further contact and forbid him to leave the state.

"The University will continue to support the three students and is doing what it can to ensure their health and safety," Freid said. Because separation from the University involves the suspension of all rights and privileges including Gu's fellowship stipend, the University will provide an equivalent amount of support for him from its own resources.

"I would like to commend Stephen Morin, director of risk management, and Ninni Jacob, radiation safety officer, for their work in this case," Freid said. "Their care in following safety procedures and their concern for the welfare of the community are what brought this situation to light."

The ongoing investigation of the case is under the direction of the Providence Police.


See also University statement 98-044.