Students Reveal Break-In Suspect’s Campus Ties



Ryan Smith

At the time of his arrest on November 16, all that was known about Jonathan J. Sanders was that he was a 20-year-olnd Madison resident apprehended for burglary in the second degree. Sanders was arrested for the string of break-ins that occurred over the course of the first two weeks of November. In the weeks since the Hamilton Police detained the young man, questions linger amongst the Colgate community. Namely, who exactly was Jonathan J. Sanders and what was his affiliation, if any, with the University?

At the time of his arrest this information was unknown. Weeks later, it is now clear Sanders was not only friendly with a number of Colgate students but also had illegitimate access to numerous campus facilities. His arrest closes the case on a number of security breaches while highlighting ongoing security issues facing the broader Colgate community.

For some time, the specifics of Sanders’s personality and on-campus activity remained unclear. However, after the November 19 issue of The Maroon-News published Sanders’s name, three first-year males and one sophomore female came forward to shed light on the Jonathan “Jon” J. Sanders they knew. Essentially, Sanders was a college-age student taking advantage of illegitimate access to dining halls, residence halls, gym facilities and fraternity houses. At the request of each of the interviewees, they will remain anonymous.

“The first time he came in [to our dorm], he actually followed some of the girls in from our floor…[when we first met him] we were in our room with the door open playing music and he just walked in with a huge pitcher filled with a mixed alcoholic beverage,” the initial first-year male interviewed said.

“[Sanders introduced himself as] ‘Jon,’ said that he was a graduate of Colgate and mentioned that he had done this [hung out in the first-year dorms] before,” a second first-year male said. Although Sanders “made it clear he had access to drugs [marijuana],” he only mentioned illegal substances during that first personal introduction when he claimed to have been “smoking all day,” the same male recalled.

“One of our roommates was particularly uncomfortable so we all decided to head down to Frank thinking it would be a good way to get rid of him casually since he would have needed a ‘Gate card to get in. He walked with us down to Frank and knew the guy working there and that worker just let him in,” the same first-year said.

The three first-years present at the time expressed surprise and then concern that campus facilities were so easily accessible to people without any official Colgate identification.

From that point on, Sanders “came to hang out at least half a dozen times, and on some weekends it was every night,” the second first-year male said.

Often, he would let himself into first-year dorms and meet people in their rooms.

“He absolutely knew the door code,” the same interviewee recounted.

Over the next few weeks, these male students came to know Sanders.

“He had just lost his job and was having trouble getting his car back from the shop. He was talking about how he wanted to go to Morrisville to finish up school,” one of the students recalled.

Sanders’s story was ever changing, however. First he claimed to be a Colgate graduate, but then recanted his story and claimed he had dropped out for reasons he did not explain. In reality, Jonathan J. Sanders attended Cazenovia College and played on the soccer team. He entered Cazenovia in 2007 and stayed for no longer than one school year.

One of these students identified Sanders as “a decent kid, well-raised but somewhat socially awkward.” According to the students who knew him, Sanders originally lived in New York City but moved up to Hamilton with his mother when they ran into financial issues.

“He definitely had money problems; he made that really clear,” this student said.

Each of the students interviewed had reservations believing Sanders was capable of burglary in the second degree.

“There were times when he was in a room with only one other person that was focused on playing video games and he could have easily taken something; but he didn’t,” one first-year said.

Another Colgate student, a sophomore female, experienced a different encounter with Jon Sanders.

“He walked by my open room and then doubled back and entered without knocking. Once inside, he started asking me questions about my activities at Colgate,” she said.

This female student had never spoken to Sanders prior to this intrusion and admitted feeling that the situation was “odd” and “uncomfortable.” When she prompted Sanders on his activities at Colgate, assuming he was a student as well, Sanders simply replied that he was “too old for that s—; don’t worry about it, I already graduated.”

Each of the students interviewed stated that Sanders claimed to have hung out in first-year dorms going back at least a couple of years. Accordingly, he knew a number of Colgate students from the campus facilities he frequented. Sanders knew “people at DU [Delta Upsilon] and would hang out there” and could often be found “playing basketball at Huntington Gym,” according to a third male first-year.

“There are a lot of kids in Huntington that just don’t go to Colgate, Morrisville kids, for example. If you bring your ball to the courts, no one says anything and it makes me wonder if there is any security there at all,” the first interviewee said.

Over Thanksgiving break, in response to security incidents before the holiday weekend, the building door codes around campus were changed. An e-mail was sent out to the Colgate community that stressed, “door codes are confidential” and the “distribution or public display of door codes is prohibited.” Just this past Monday, November 30, however, yet another Campus Alert was sent out via e-mail urging students to lock their doors and windows as “the Campus Safety department received reports of electronic equipment being stolen from residential halls the week of Thanksgiving.”

The second first-year male interviewed argued that it is “impossible” to fully secure campus, though he believes it is the students’ duty to try.

“The responsibility is ultimately in the hands of the students because it simply is not realistic for Campus Security to pick out a 20-year-old on campus and assume they don’t go to Colgate.”