After being beaten by two male individuals on Eder Terrace and Wilden Place during his walk home last Tuesday night, sophomore Joshua Meyer wants action to be taken about the walk to Ivy Hill.
“I want to be able to walk home after dark by myself,” Meyer said. “I would like some lights or public safety to patrol, the main issue is now I don’t like walking home.”
“It’s not that Ivy Hill is a bad place, it’s just a four minute walk and I think there could be infinitely more done to make it better,” Meyer said. “If there’s just a uniform sitting out there even. Seton Hall said they don’t have jurisdiction out there, but if there’s some uniform out there it’s going to discourage people.”
Meyer said that Karen Van Norman, associate vice president and dean of students, has been helping him with the situation, and referred him to Public Safety regarding more on how to make the areas outside campus safer.
“I have to go talk to someone there, but hopefully I just want to make it better, that’s my whole point,” Meyer said. “I have friends at USC and Fordham, which are both in bad parts of town, and they have better campus security options, I just want more options available.”
Professor John Paitakes, who teaches Criminal Justice courses at Seton Hall, said that some campuses like Rutgers have a student watch-dog group that provides additional eyes and ears for security members.
“I don’t know if it’s been discussed here, but it could potentially provide internships for students in security,” Paitakes said. “We certainly don’t want them to be involved in any arrests, just as additional viewing. Administrators would have to be considered.”
Meyer thinks the idea has merit.
“I didn’t even think about that,” he said. “I haven’t heard of anything like that before. Honestly any idea like that, it’s a starting point, you have to start somewhere. If there are students off campus that live there that can watch, as long as it doesn’t endanger them, if they’re just looking out their window every few minutes, I think it’s actually a really good idea.”
Meyer also used other schools’ forms of security as examples of ways to improve Seton Hall’s system, but said that he is already confident that Seton Hall has done as much as it can and has been impressed with the administration.
“If we would model our security after some of the other schools that have this same situation, like Fordham or USC, that we could do so much more,” Meyer said.
Junior Tim Belmont lives on Eder Terrace, near where Meyer was assaulted on the intersection of Wilden and Eder. He thinks that the watchdog group could prove to be affective.
“(A watchdog group) would probably be pretty good,” Belmont said. “Everybody would have to cooperate with it, if we all work together in Ivy Hill, Seton Court, and Eder to see anything suspicious it would be pretty good, it couldn’t do any harm. The only thing the school can do is keep the student body aware that they have to be safe, and they’re already doing a good job of that,” Belmont said. “The police seem to be fairly active.”
Meyer was adamant about making sure students are brainstorming ideas to help ensure students’ safety at night.
“If anybody has an idea how to make campus security better, tell somebody,” Meyer said. “The deans are more than willing to talk to people about it. If you have an idea don’t be quiet, tell somebody, even if they don’t like it maybe they can build off of it, so that’s the biggest thing, that’s something that could easily be done.”
Meyer also stressed the importance of walking in groups. He pointed out that while he was disappointed in the emails that were sent out about the CASE van, he still advocated the service.
“I’ve rode it twice so far and it came at 12:30 in the morning and still gave me a ride though. The CASE van works really well for me except I’m not really sure why they just cut it off at 11 p.m.”
The Broadcast Community Alerts remind students to travel in groups when walking off campus and when possible take the SHUFLY shuttle, the CASE van or public transportation. If you are the victim of a robbery attempt, cooperate.
Paitakes also added that students should always report incidents even if they think they are minor. He believes the campus itself is pretty safe, and that students should be more wary off campus, especially at night, and especially if a student has consumed alcoholic beverages, as it hinders perceptions and intuitions.
“Beware of your surroundings beware of persons that are lingering or suspicious looking persons- avoid that,” Paitakes said. “If there’s a short cut but it isn’t properly lit or whatever, even though you’ll get there quicker, it’s better to take the longer lit route.”
Meyer doesn’t like the talk he’s heard about students wanting to walk around carrying weapons.
“I personally am not carrying a knife on me. I’m thinking in that situation what I could have done some people have been saying a whistle, as corny as that sounds, it might just throw them off enough that you could get the chance to get away, but besides that if you don’t have to, don’t walk around after dark, that’s the big thing.”
Meyer, a sophomore from Nebraska, said the incident happened the night his mother had come to visit him from home.
“I hadn’t seen my parents in four and a half months, and the night she came in is the night it happened,” Meyer said.
He said that he was walking back from the train station around 7:30 p.m. and it had just gotten dark. He was walking from Wilden Gate towards the Ivy Hill Apartments. As he was walking on the sidewalk opposite from the campus perimeters, two men approached him.
“I just didn’t think anything of it,” Meyer said. “They were walking, I was just walking, I was almost at my apartment. They didn’t make any threatening gestures, they didn’t say anything, I mean I’ve been walking home for the last month a lot later than 7:30 p.m.”
When the two men reached him, one knocked Meyer down and the two started assaulting him.
“They didn’t ask for my money they didn’t ask for a wallet they just kept beating me,” Meyer said. “It was really scary, I’m so thankful I didn’t get stabbed because I personally think that because the fact that they didn’t ask for money and they didn’t ask for a wallet, they didn’t actually say anything the whole time, and I was like here’s my wallet, take my money and I tried to grab it out of my back pocket to give it to them and they just kept kicking and hitting me.”
All of a sudden the two men stopped and ran off down Eder towards Irvington Ave.
“I got up found my shoe which had come off and looked around for my wallet because I didn’t know if it fell out or they took it or what happened,” Meyers said. ” I looked around didn’t find it, went straight back to my apt, cleaned up my face because I had a really bad lip and I was bleeding and it was just not pretty. Then I called the police because my roommate said I should report these things because they’ll patrol the area more.”
Meyer said he dialed 911 and was connected with Newark Police, but miscommunication between the two lead to a questionable remark from the 911 operator.
“She made some comment like ‘do you know this is 911?'” Meyer said. “I said ‘I don’t know lady like I just got mugged’ and all I could tell them it was across the street from Seton Hall.” He was then redirected to South Orange Police Department who sent an officer out.
“I said I could meet him out where it happened so I could show them and I had my roommate with me,” Meyer said. “We went out there I told the officer what happened and looked around for my wallet for a little bit.”
As Meyer was talking to the officer that responded to the call, a man walking by asked if he was Josh Meyer. When Josh responded yes, he said the man had found all his cards and ID.
“So apperantly what had happened was my wallet came out somehow and they got it and threw the IDs on the ground, because he said he found all the IDs scattered,” Meyeres said. “He’s actually a grad student here who lives in Ivy hill too and he found me on facebook and called me and left a message, but I didn’t before I got the message I saw him walking.”
Meyers said the assailants did not take his debit card, which he was also grateful for. A few days later Meyers went to the SOPD office to give an official report. A few days later, he heard that a student was held up at gunpoint and that the SOPD caught the assailants involved in that case.
Meyers said he couldn’t identify his assailants.
“They were both over 6 ft, I’m 6’2 180 pounds and these guys were both my size if not bigger,” he said. “If it could happen to me at 7:30 p.m. it could happen to anybody.”
Money and valuables isn’t the issue, and is not what Meyer is concerned about with students.
“I mean you’re going to lose money sometimes, money’s not that big a deal when it comes to bodily harm and risk to yourself money is not that the issue like in my situation they didn’t even ask for it,” he said. “People say it can’t happen to me, but it does, this progress (with ideas) will start something, get the ball rolling, especially since lately this stuff has been happening.”
“I’ve been telling everybody needs to be sure they are walking in pairs, if they’re walking to a party if they’re going home, if it’s after dark,” Meyer said. “I’m just so thankful that I didn’t get stabbed or nothing worse happened.”
Stephanie Bower can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.