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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman


    Series of Assaults Leaves Campus On High Alert

    Stony Brook University is on high alert following an unusual and alarming rash of attacks on students all across campus that has even the University Police Department confused and surprised.

    Three incidents spanning less than two weeks have left the student body questioning their safety on campus. ‘In my 30 years, we’ve had these types of situations, but it is not a day to day occurrence. I’m taken aback by this,’ said Doug Little, Assistant Chief of the University Police.

    He and university public relations official Pat Calabria briefed campus media and answered questions yesterday, and expressed assurances that the police department was treating these incidents with the utmost importance.

    ‘The safety of our students and staff is the priority,’ said Calabria.

    The first attack occurred on Monday, Oct. 22 when an unidentified male grabbed a female student who was out jogging. According to filed police reports, the woman fought back, and her attacker fled the scene.

    In the scuffle, the victim was able to scratch her attacker, and Officer Little said that police were able to gather DNA evidence from the victim.

    The second attack occurred on Oct. 23, when a female who was returning to her room found her door unlocked, and a male waiting inside. He is reported to have touched her inappropriately before leaving the scene. The incident was then reported to campus police on Oct. 25.

    University Police Deputy Chief Suzanne Benedetto, who was also at the press conference, stated that attending to the victims was a high priority. ‘Giving them all the resources that are available to them’ is extremely important, she stated. Included in that is the university’s free and confidential counseling, added Benedetto.

    The most recent attack occurred on Oct. 30. A male undergraduate student was assaulted and robbed while walking from a parking lot to Roth Quad.

    Near Whitman College, the student was approached by two males who asked him for a light. As the student approached, he was hit repeatedly by his attackers and kicked once, before one of the assailants, described as a white male, pulled out a knife and asked for the victim’s belongings.

    That incident comes about a year after another attack in Roth Quad involving a female student, raising concerns about a lack of sufficient lighting in the quad that could pose a danger to students.

    Calabria addressed those concerns, saying that the university implemented ‘a fast tracking program for repairing lights after last year’s incident.’

    Both Little and Calabria remarked on the actions being taken by the University Police department.

    ‘All 120+ blue lights across campus were evaluated to ensure that they are in working order,’ Calabria said. Police have also stepped up security across the campus. According to the university, there are four outdoor cameras monitoring residential roadways, including the main entrance, as well as video recording in 47 residence halls and apartment complexes at main entrances.

    Students have been irked by the incidents. Both Little and Calabria have noted a considerable number of rumors that spread following these incidents, and the sense of security that many students held has slightly diminished. According to an online Statesman poll, the number of students who felt safe only during the daytime or not at all has risen to 16%, from 0% a few days ago.

    Calabria, who has been working at Stony Brook for eight years, was also startled by the surge in serious crimes this past week or so. ‘The history while I’ve been here’hellip;has been a good history with the police on this campus,’ he said.

    And Calabria is right. Crimes like the ones seen on campus have been trending downward at a pace of roughly 8% per year.
    ‘This is not something that were accustomed to, and that’s why we are taking this thing seriously,’ Calabria added.

    Little and Calabria also commended the university for alerting the campus in a timely fashion about each incident via email. But one question that remains to be answered is whether the new alert system being installed throughout campus would be used for cases like the ones that the university just witnessed. The system was developed following the tragedy at Virginia Polytechnic Institute where a gunman killed 32 students and faculty last April.

    Officer Little asked the campus population to be more proactive in fighting to prevent these types of incidents. ‘Students, faculty and staff have to have an awareness of their surroundings,’ said Little. He added that ‘a lot of crimes that occur on campus are crimes of opportunity,’ stressing the importance of locking doors and not propping doors.

    ‘If students see something suspicious, or if they hear something suspicious, call us,’ continued Little.

    The campus tips line is 2-TIPS from any campus phone, or contact the Suffolk County Crime Stoppers at 1-800-220-TIPS.

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