Student gov’t presses NYU administrators about crime at town hall 

Members of the Student Government Assembly and NYU administration addressed campus safety issues at a virtual town hall on Wednesday, April 13.

An+NYU+Campus+Safety+vehicle+in+front+of+trees.+The+vehicle+is+a+white+car+with+purple+decals+and+the+text+%E2%80%9CCampus+Safety+212-998-2222%E2%80%9D+on+top.

Manasa Gudavalli

The Student Government Assembly hosted a town hall on April 14. NYU administration discussed campus safety in light of recent violence and crime in New York City. (Staff Photo by Manasa Gudavalli)

Maria Freyre, Senior Staff Writer

The Student Government Assembly and NYU administrators addressed an uptick in crime on campus and around New York City at a town hall on Wednesday, April 13. The event was hosted by SGA’s Diversity Committee, NYU Campus Safety, and the offices of Student Affairs and Global Inclusion, Diversity, and Strategic Innovation.

“We’re there to listen and observe in order to gain a better understanding of the experiences of our student community and use them to inform University action,” SGA Diversity Committee director Marleyna George said. 

The event opened with a discussion about the recent mass shooting in a Brooklyn subway on April 12, which prompted safety concerns about taking the subway among New York City residents and NYU community members. 

“I wanted to share that we have been in direct communication and contact with students who have been directly impacted,” dean of students Rafael Rodriguez said. “We are providing direct individualized support for students who are living in the area or who have reached out asking for anything from accommodations to transportation.”

Campus Safety head Fountain Walker issued a press release about the shooting around four hours after the incident occurred, saying the university would operate as normal and offering mental health and transportation resources to impacted students, faculty and staff. Some students said that NYU’s communications were delayed and inadequate.

Alex Chapman, the vice-chair of SGA’s Diversity Committee, also brought up the recent harassment of campus admissions tours and asked about NYU’s response to the situation. Jason Pina, the vice president for University Life and Global Engagement, said Campus Safety is continuing to increase security officer presence on tour routes and adding indoor stops that are compliant with COVID-19 restrictions.

“The other part is really trying to empower the ambassadors so that if they feel a need to shut down a tour, to go back to the [admissions center],” Rodriguez said. “They’ve been really encouraged to do so and to make sure that the students realize that that would be done at their discretion without any kind of negative reaction from administration about a tour being truncated.”

After several assaults against NYU students on or near campus, Campus Safety installed lights and cameras on scaffolding east of Washington Square Park. Patti McSteen, the senior associate vice president of Campus Safety, said the department plans to partner with the offices of the Dean of Students and Student Affairs to directly hear safety concerns of students.

“While we cannot stop the violence from happening, we can mitigate the risk by having more of a presence out there,” McSteen said. “A proactive approach is exactly this — engaging with our students, listening and hearing what your concerns are.”

During the meeting’s open discussion, Nick Felber — the graduate senator for the Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development — questioned the research behind the installation of cameras and increasing New York City Police Department presence around campus.

“Many of the people that I’ve talked to in faculty and students have concerns about these steps that are being taken,” Felber said. “They don’t really seem to match up with the research that we have available.”

Tina Panda, the sophomore Class Activities Board president, asked if trigger warnings could be included in the subject line of the Campus Safety alerts in the future. Panda said that the warnings are important to acknowledge the mental health concerns of students.

“We don’t know what students are going through, if they’re survivors, or if they have personal stories — all of those things,” Panda said. “It can be mentally triggering for them to see all of these things right in the middle of the day.” 

Zoe Ragouzeos, the executive director of Counseling and Wellness Services, said NYU offers counseling and support services for LGBTQ+ students, students of color, female students, international students, and Asian American and Pacific Islander students who experience hate-based crimes and assaults.

“It’s important for students to be able to unite and get psychological support not only individually, but among the identities that feel most salient for them,” Ragouzeos said. “It is overwhelming to think about what you actually need, and so we are mindful that students need to be reminded once again, that psychological support is available.”

Contact Maria Freyre at [email protected]