Notifications flicker on the phones of students around 11 p.m. “Reported sexual assault on Rider’s Lawrenceville campus” the message begins. One student groans, “Here we go again” and casually disregards the message. Another takes the message as truth that a vocal student majority has made an impact.
Four reported sexual offenses within a two-month span have caused a spike in student awareness of crime on campus. Many claimed during these incidents that the university wasn’t doing its job in informing students, leaving them to find out what happened only through rumor or local news media.
On Oct. 18, this changed as a new sexual assault warning flashed across every student’s phone. This message was different than the others, stating that while there was no imminent danger to campus, a police investigation was under way involving two students known to one another. Some students rejoiced and praised the university for the information; others shrugged and went on with their night.
A rapid response to the first wave of sexual offenses sparked a question asked in many classrooms and dormitories: “Why should I feel safe if the university is only telling us of some instances but not all?” This occurred because of the lack of notification regarding a situation at Poyda in September, where a sexual assault was reported and deemed unfounded, and also lack of a timely warning during an intrusion in Delta Phi Epsilon where the trespasser was later identified as Jon Cannon. Students went into an uproar, calling for answers as to why they were not notified of these incidents.
The notification on Oct. 18 granted the wishes of some students, explaining that the warning was sent out because of the Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act and that Rider was conducting the investigation per Title IX and following its policy guidelines.
Taking the students’ voices into account during a crisis was the right thing to do. The uncertainty that many students felt in September has dissipated because of the incorporation of this kind of information.
The same students who do not feel these warnings are necessary could end up being those who do not fully understand the definition of consent and can get themselves into a sticky situation through their misinterpretations. Take action and seek understanding as a student of Rider, open your eyes to what is happening on campus so that you can take responsibility for your own safety and others’. Rider has listened to the many of us who cried out for more information, and taken action to provide specifics for this incident.
The addition of more informative, timely warnings will provide our campus with the ability to breathe easier knowing our administrators are on our side and looking out for the safety of us all. Ultimately however, it is the responsibility of each student to understand what is happening on campus and stop sexual offenses before they happen.
The weekly editorial expresses the majority opinion of The Rider News. This week’s editorial was written by the Managing Editor, Alexis Schulz.
Printed in the 10/21/15 issue.