South Orange, Seton Hall community discuss safety concerns
Village Liaisons hosted a meeting on Oct. 20 entitled “What You Should Know About Safety,” to inform members of the Seton Hall community about safety concerns both on and off campus.
The event featured various speakers and a section in which students could ask about their personal safety concerns.
“We wanted to have this event to answer any questions students may have regarding safety in light of recent events around campus,” Kayla Ogletree off-campus services committee coordinator for Village Liaisons said.
The first speaker at the event was Thomas Giordano, assistant director of Emergency Management for Public Safety and Security. In his speech, he highlighted various precautions students should take in order to ensure their safety. This included not walking alone even on campus, limiting alcohol intake and party situations and not leaving valuables unattended.
“We have to accept and understand that crime exists both on and off campus,” Giordano said. “Just because we are on a campus, it in no way means that we are immune to crime.”
Giordano said the University tries to create a safe atmosphere for students but that nothing is foolproof.
“Even students can victimize each other,” he said.
Edward Heckel of the South Orange Police Department also spoke at the event.
“The gaslights are pretty much useless in town,” he said. “The main problem is the lack of light. It is tempting for an assailant to come around campus where it is nice and dark and they can be in Newark in two seconds.”
Heckel stressed the campus’ proximity to Newark as one of the main reasons for safety concerns.
“With Seton Hall’s location, we are pretty much swimming in shark-infested waters,” Heckel said.
Both Giordano and Heckel stressed that if a student is approached by an assailant who wants valuables, it is important to comply. According to Giordano, “Nothing that you own is worth your life.”
The South Orange Police Department has increased measures to ensure the safety of Seton Hall students. Two officers monitor the campus and focus on problem areas such as the gate by the baseball field.
Heckel said that, though the police department is working to ensure student safety, it is impossible for them to constantly watch over everything.
“I know there is a history of problems with town residents and students, but don’t think the police department doesn’t care about you guys up here. We just work at minimum capacity often, so we can’t always be here or by the gates,” he said. “We don’t want to bust parties and deal with noise complaints. We want to, you know, catch the bad guys. That’s why we became cops, not to harass college students.”
Heckel also said that students should call the South Orange Police Department’s non-emergency number to report any suspicious activity.
In addition to the presentation, Village Liaisons will also be tabling outside of the University Center on Oct. 21 to get student input and opinions on safety concerns.
There will also be a Light the Night Walk at 9 p.m. with members of Public Safety and the South Orange Police Department around off-campus areas that have been identified as trouble spots for students in the past. If a student is interested in attending, the walk will start in the lobby of the University Center.
“After the walk, we will have more information and be able to move forward in helping students become safer,” Melissa Boege, president of SGA, said.
Students also are encouraged to take advantage of services provided by both Seton Hall and the surrounding towns. South Orange and Maplewood have a Jitney service with many stops in the area where the SHUFLY does not run. The Jitney only costs one dollar and will take students to campus. The CASE van runs from 5 p.m. to 2 a.m. every night.
For more information about Village Liaisons events and initiatives visit the The Blue Orange at blogs.shu.edu/theblueorange
Alyana Alfaro can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.