Details Emerge on Shocking Campus Muggings

Students awoke on the morning of Monday, February 16 to a barrage of e-mails and colored flyers around campus warning them of two muggings that had occurred on campus the previous night. The messages stated that even though a thorough investigation of the situation was already underway, students needed to remain vigilant and aware when walking around campus, especially when alone and at night.

The Campus Safety and Dean of Students Offices received a report at around 10 p.m. Sunday night that a student had been accosted while walking down Willow Path toward Broad Street. About two hours later, another report came in about a student who was followed in her car from the Townhouses to 40 Broad Street and then was robbed as she stepped outside her vehicle. According to the information in the reports, the mugger or muggers did not use any weapons and neither of the students were physically harmed.

While Campus Safety could not be reached for direct comment about the incidents, Vice President and Dean of the College Charlotte Johnson and Associate Vice President and Dean of Students Scott Brown stated that the Hamilton Police Department arrested a suspect early on Monday and have been holding him in custody.

“This individual is a resident of a nearby community and is not a Colgate student, staff or faculty member,” Johnson said.

After receiving the first report Monday night, Campus Safety officers went around Case Library alerting the students and staff of what had happened and offering rides back to residences. Many of the students who were in Case at the time quickly spread the word through e-mail chains, so most of the campus was aware of the incidents before being officially alerted by the Campus Safety Office.

After receiving the news from friends, several students were concerned about why theE2Campus Emergency System was not activated to send out alerts.

Johnson explained that the administration decided that the E2Campus system would not be the most effective mode of communication for this type of situation since not every member of the Colgate Community has signed up for it.

According to Johnson, “The Campus Alert e-mail system, the dissemination of flyers throughout residences and verbal notifications by on-call staff and emergency personnel were all deemed to be more appropriate” means of spreading the news across the entire campus.

“E2Campus is a great resource, but was not used in this case because the suspect was identified and was no longer considered an on-going threat.” Brown said.

This decision was made in spite of the fact that the suspect was at large for approximately an hour and a half between the two muggings.

Concerning the response to the muggings, Johnson and Brown both praised the Campus Safety Department for its actions.

“Campus Safety did a commendable job,” they said in a joint e-mail. “As first responders, they set into motion a series of events that led to capture of the suspect within eight hours of the first incident being reported. Their swift operations also helped to prevent any further incidents that night. Increased patrols and an increased physical presenceofcampus safety officers,the engagement of local law enforcement,helping to communicate the incidents to students and others in immediate and surrounding vicinitiesand the immediate response to the victims and their needs all combined to help resolve this matter quickly and safely.”

In addition, the Campus Safety Office distributed “Safety Preparedness Guide Books” to all students, faculty and staff last Wednesday in order to help the campus be prepared for any sort of dangerous event.

Many students, including sophomore Madeleine Casella, were shaken by the events.

“It’s not only scary but really shocking to think that something like that can happen here on such a small campus in such a small town,” Casella said.

Despite the fears of the students, Colgate is a school that takes safety and security issues very seriously. According to the Deans’ Office, there is a “high-level Emergency Management Team on campus, comprised of senior managers from the Dean of the Faculty, IT, Dean of the College, Buildings and Grounds, Administration, Campus Safety and Risk Management, that meets regularly to assess the campus environment, provide training and education. Additionally, 225 participants have completed faculty and staff safety guide training and 97 percent of the student bodyhas completedsafety training.”

Johnson expanded upon this official assessment.

“No place is immune from crime, and many common sense things go a very long way,” Johnson said. “Lock your doors, secure your belongings, don’t prop doors, report things that seem out of the ordinary, let people know where you are going, register for E2Campus, use the buddy system. All these things together help us to be an even safer community.”