Are SHU safe?’: Students participate in walkout to send message to University

Seton Hall students demanded security improvements as they walked out of classes on Nov. 22 at 12:30 p.m.

All students participating gathered on the Green and were asked whether or not they wanted to sign a petition requesting change.

Stickers that read “are SHU safe?” were handed out to all students and posters with various messages such as “Walk in groups, protest in groups,” were seen around the Green.

Angie Avendaño, senior, and attendee of the event, said she has been very concerned with safety on campus.

“I am a commuter and we aren’t in the safest area,” Avendaño said.

The walkout to the Green, an event listed on Facebook, was organized by students William Suggs, Justin Cottrell, Angela Kelly, Jordan McGillis, Joshua Meyer and Alexandra Hauenstein.

The Facebook event page as well as flyers circulating around the University asked students to walk out of their classes at 12:30 p.m. on Nov. 22 to show their dissatisfaction with safety on campus.

The walkout came in response to the broadcast e-mail sent to the Seton Hall community on Nov. 17. The e-mail reported that a female Seton Hall student had been sexually assaulted on campus on Nov. 16 around 11 p.m.

On Nov. 19, a second broadcast e-mail had been sent reporting that the girl had altered her statement and no sexual assault had occurred on Seton Hall’s campus.

Despite the report having changed, Meyer, one of the six students who organized the event, said the walkout was still necessary.

“The walkout is about more than the single incident,” Meyer said. “It is about improving the safety of the entire Seton Hall community and the latest report happened to get people talking enough to decide to act.”

As of 12 p.m. on Nov. 22, a half hour before the start of the event, the Facebook page listed that 412 students were expected to attend.

However, 412 students did not show up and instead the number of attendees was significantly smaller.

Avendaño said that she expected a larger showing.

“Security is the most important thing and I expected more students to show,” Avendaño said.

As 12:30 p.m. approached, students passed by the green making their disagreement with the event heard. One student in passing said, “I don’t get why we are here, nothing happened.”

Alex Buonfiglio, freshmen, felt that there was no need for the walkout.

“By doing the walkout it is only continuing to show Seton Hall in a negative light,” Buonfiglio said. “The school can only do so much, but there is definitely room for improvement.”

The second broadcast e-mail sent to the Seton Hall community on Nov. 19 did promise improvement on campus.

“In response to this matter, we enhanced our safety measures to include additional services to students and cooperated with local law enforcement to ensure that all measures for campus security and safety are maintained,” Laura Wankel, vice president for Student Affairs, said in the e-mail.

Wankel also said that the safety and security of everyone on campus continues to be their paramount concern.

Meyer said he did see a change in security but feared that it would not stay that way for long.

“Anybody can see the increase in security at the gates and on campus, and this is exactly what we need,” Meyer said. “My only concern is: how long will it stay like this?”

Whether or not the walkout will bring change is something that they can only hope for, according to Avendaño.

Meyer said that it has already brought about change. “People are talking, ideas are being exchanged, and people are starting to care,” Meyer said.

“If because of the walkout, one student decides to take the CASE van instead of walking home alone, then I will say it was a success,” Meyer said.

Organizers of the walkout encouraged students to continue to voice their opinions by attending Village meetings and Student Government Association meetings.

William Suggs, Justin Cottrell, Angela Kelly, Jordan McGillis and Alexandra Hauenstein did not return request for comment by press time.

Ashley Duvall can be reached at Ashley.Duvall@student.shu.edu.

Author: Staff Writer

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