New security measures installed near Stern, but students still worry about safety

NYU Campus Safety added lights on scaffolding and nine security cameras east of Washington Square Park after seven NYU students were assaulted in the area last month.

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Sam Tu

Following the recent string of campus assaults, the Department of Campus Safety has added lights under the scaffolding near the Leonard N. Stern School of Business. The department is also in the midst of adding nine new security cameras east of Washington Square Park. (Staff Photo by Sam Tu)

Lauren Ashe, Senior Staff Writer

Following a string of assaults on campus, some NYU students continue to worry about their safety on campus, despite increased security measures announced by the Department of Campus Safety on March 2. 

Campus Safety installed lights on scaffolding near the Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences on Friday, March 4, and added nine security cameras east of Washington Square Park on Monday, March 7, according to NYU spokesperson John Beckman. Department officers are also conducting four to eight patrols — on foot and in vehicles — every day.

Issues of crime and personal safety are generally very much on the mind of New Yorkers at this time, so it’s not a surprise to hear that those issues are on the minds of members of the NYU community, too, especially in light of the recent set of incidents,” Beckman wrote in a statement to WSN. “We hope that the steps we are taking will help address that.”

Seven students were attacked by a passerby between Feb. 2 and Feb. 25 on NYU’s Washington Square campus. Three of the victims have claimed that Campus Safety mishandled the reports of their incidents. 

[Read more: 2 more students allege NYU mishandled campus attacks]

SPS senior AJ Sun, who was assaulted on Feb. 15 in front of the Stern School of Business, was the first student to speak out publicly about his attack, posting on social media to alert other students of the incident. After seeing the new lights and cameras, Sun said he is unsure that Campus Safety’s new safety measures will be effective in curbing hate crimes on campus.

“This will be helpful, but I am not sure if this can stop the hate crimes entirely,” Sun wrote to WSN. “This is something that NYU can’t really solve.”

Since Sun posted about the attacks, he has asked other students on Instagram for input on safety measures that they hope to see from Campus Safety. CAS junior Jack Li said he believes that the lights, cameras and increased Campus Safety foot patrol were only implemented because of Sun’s advocacy.

“[NYU] is an institution which understands an empty gesture like this is enough to pacify its student body until the news cycle refreshes in a week or so and everyone forgets about this episode,” Li wrote to WSN. “If NYU is seriously committed to its students, which it is not, the actual first step would be acknowledging the most recent mishandling of student reports to Campus Safety.”

Other students expressed their concerns about the university’s plan to increase the presence of Campus Safety officers on campus. A CAS first-year who requested to remain anonymous said they believe increasing the number of officers around campus is not a solution. 

They said they were concerned about delays in communications by Campus Safety — Sun’s Feb. 15 assault was not addressed by Campus Safety until a Feb. 17 email, which detailed two previously unaddressed incidents dating back to Feb. 7. The department said it would work with the New York City Police Department to investigate the assaults and review its NYU alert system to notify students of incidents more efficiently.

“My beliefs lie with abolition, so the increase in many of the measures that NYU plans on implementing are only examples of further policing,” the CAS first-year wrote to WSN. “Also, if there are changes in the campus notification system, who will continue to hold the university accountable in actually making those changes?”

Beckman said Campus Safety is looking to send notifications directed at informing the NYU community quickly rather than detailing specific incidents. He noted that the communication process is still being examined.

[Read more: NYU Campus Safety to increase security after several students assaulted]

The majority of students who reported their assaults described the perpetrator as a white male with blond hair. Two victims, however, described assailants with different appearances. On March 2, the NYPD arrested a man who matched the descriptions provided by most of the NYU victims in connection with a separate string of anti-Asian assaults.

Steven Zajonc, the 28-year-old suspect, is accused of attacking seven Asian women over the span of two hours throughout the East Village, Gramercy Park, Nolita and Midtown on March 1. Zajonc is facing charges of hate crime assault, and the NYPD’s Asian Hate Crimes Task Force is investigating the incidents

Campus Safety head Fountain Walker wrote in a March 2 email that the department is acting under the assumption that anti-Asian bigotry played a part in the attacks on NYU students. A group of parents of Asian students met on Zoom with Rafael Rodriguez, the dean of students, Patti McSteen, the senior associate vice president and deputy of Global Campus Safety, and Sherif Barsoum, the associate vice president of Global Services, to discuss their concerns about safety on campus on Tuesday, March 8.

All assaults are under investigation by Campus Safety and the NYPD.

Rachel Cohen contributed reporting.

Contact Lauren Ashe at [email protected]