Seton Hall University Students Protest Campus Safety
Afternoon walkout brings dozens to university green
At least three dozens students walked out of class Monday afternoon at Seton Hall University to protest the campus' alleged lack of security.
As school officials watched from the side street, students gathered on the university's lawn with signs reading, "Got Securitas?" and "I can be safer on campus."
The protest follows a week after a female Seton Hall student reported an alleged sexual assault on campus Tuesday night. She later recanted that story Friday and said the incident occurred off campus. The Essex County Prosecutor's Office said the investigation is still pending and no arrests have been made.
William Suggs, 20, a junior diplomacy and international relations major at Seton Hall and the event's main organizer, said the peaceful protest was to point out security flaws at the school.
"The real main issue is that students are not happy about what's being done," he said. "Students are unhappy with the security situation."
Suggs said students also were joined by faculty members who told those gathered to "let faculty know how you feel."
Josh Meyer, 21, a junior liberal studies major and event organizer, said the protest is personal.
"Last year, I was attacked just across the street from campus, walking to my apartment," he said. "This obviously is an indicator of what we're facing in the neighborhood and have to be aware of."
Jennifer Springstead, 21, a senior public relations major, said she doesn't feel safe on campus.
"I just think that even if people are not getting assaulted on campus, it's really an issue because who of our students haven't walked off campus to get coffee or go home," she said.
Thomas White, the college's vice president for communications, told Patch the university is "vigilant" in its efforts to keep the campus safe.
White said the school boosted security after last week's incident by hiring off-duty South Orange police to patrol the perimeter of the campus and increasing the number of campus police patrols on bike and foot.
The alleged assault comes two months after the shooting death of Seton Hall University sophomore Jessica Moore at an off-campus party. Nicholas Welch, 25, of East Orange, and Marcus Bascus, 19, of East Orange, have been charged with the murder.
Meyer said in order for students to understand the necessity for better security measures, the university must implement more classes about public safety.
"A lot (of the) change has to start with education," he said. "We take a class called 'University Life' on how to get used to school and be safe, but we don't talk about public safety enough in it and we need to get more classes dedicated to public safety because once kids know about these, they will be safer."
— Staff reports