The fatal act of violence which occurred one mile from Seton Hall's campus on Friday, took place in, what an article on NJ.com was quick to point out, an "unsanctioned" Greek life house. The university should reexamine its policy in sanctioning Greek life housing in order to create a safer environment for students.
Though the murder of Jessica Moore and the shooting of 4 other people occurred off Seton Hall's campus, the University should take responsibility for its negligence in preventing this tragedy. It is in the students' best interest for Seton Hall to adopt and monitor Greek Life housing.
In a centrally located, University-sanctioned "Greek Row," police would have more direct access to altercations and problems. Everyone in the campus community knows students are often targeted, robbed, and mugged when walking around through South Orange at night, oftentimes from one Greek life party to another. Though the university supplies a shuttle from central points around town, its hours are unrealistic, as students are often out, walking dark streets until very early in the morning.
Liability is an important issue at Seton Hall since another tragedy, the Boland residence hall fire of 2000 opened up a legal can of worms for the university. However, we have gone on to become one of the most effective fire-safety campuses in the country, making the Princeton Review's "Honor Roll for Fire Safety".
A month after the fire, Governor George E. Pataki of New York said, "While New York campuses have a good record on fire safety, the tragic fire at Seton Hall University is a stark reminder that colleges and universities must be diligent in protecting the lives of the students entrusted in their care." In having university-sanctioned housing, Seton Hall could surely cease turning a blind eye to the activities and social events in the Greek Life community, and become a diligent leader in urban-campus safety.
The school would have better access to issues which arise in the Greek Life community. Allegations of hazing problems could be reduced because of greater interdependence with the university.
Weighing liability for the University and responsibility for it students is surely a difficult cost/benefit analysis for administrators, especially in examining such a high profile and bizarre incident. But, surely, the University should not do nothing.
One road which the University could choose to take to limit its liability is to further alienate or even eliminate the Greek community, taking even less responsibility for the safety of its students. But the "official" elimination of Greek life could force the Greek life system underground, making more likely even more incidences such as Friday's tragedy. Eliminating Greek life would be a clumsy move for the university to make, considering Greek life is a group of some of the most dynamic, scholarly, and school spirited leaders in and around Seton Hall and beyond. A prominent Greek life system could also draw more like-minded students into Seton Hall and help retention rates.
Many students choose to live in less costly areas, such as East Orange, where the Greek life party on Friday was held. But university-sanctioned Greek housing would create more affordable housing in South Orange. Swipe-lock Systems on university-sanctioned Greek housing could prevent unwelcome people, as doors are often left unlocked at parties where many come and go constantly.
Though it is a tragedy in itself to have to use the loss of one of our own to make a change, the Seton Hall community should open up a debate on possible ways this horror could have been prevented. We will always remember Jessica, and her heroism and memory should be dedicated to the prevention of such cowardly and senseless violence as this. This situation could have occurred in any Greek life house in the surrounding area, and probably will again if the University's system for operating Greek Life itself is not more effectively monitored. As a Catholic school, we are great at coming together to pray in reacting to tragedies, but we should use our dynamism to be proactive about health, safety, and the good of our community. Creating greater interdependence between Seton Hall and its Greek Life community will surely prevent future incidents such as this horrendous act of violence perpetrated upon all of us.
Hazard Zet Forward,
Sister of Alpha Phi Fraternity, International
Charter Member of the Order of Omega, Greek Leadership Honor Society
President of Sigma Iota Rho, The Honor Society for International Studies