Staying Safe in the Big City


On the evening of Dec.11, 2019, Tessa Majors, a Barnard College freshman student, was fatally stabbed in Morningside Park. She was only 18. According to police and other city officials, Majors was approached by a group of suspects who attempted to take her property before she was stabbed multiple times. This group of suspects is currently under investigation, which includes a thirteen and fourteen year-old boy.

Majors had moved from Virginia to New York City this past fall, during the same time that many of the St. John’s starry-eyed, out-of-state freshmen were also moving in. As a student from the west coast, learning of the dreadful passing of Majors truly puts into perspective how this tragedy could have happened to any of us.

While this misfortune has shaken up people from all walks of life, it has hit college students living in New York City the hardest because Majors was just like the rest of us: young people with big dreams to make it in the greatest city in the world. By this sick turn of events, her time here was ended abruptly, but we will never forget the vibrance she brought to life through music and art, as Barnard students have recounted. As of now, we can only hope that NYC further prioritizes the security of its citizens. Until then, however, I hope to provide some advice to St. John’s students to stay safe. 

  1. Write down Public Safety’s number or add it to your contacts book. Public safety at St. John’s provides safety and security services to the campus community 24/7, every day of the year. They are even willing and able to drive to your location off campus if necessary in any event or circumstance.

Public Safety Queens #: 718-990-6281

Public Safety Staten Island #: 718-390-4487

Public Safety Manhattan #: 212-277-5155

To report a Queens Campus Emergency: 718-990-5252

  1. Share your location using your cellphone with a trusted friend, in case of emergency situations in which they would notice a change in either your behavior, mood or the disappearance of you entirely.
  2. Try to avoid dark spots or hideaways, even if it means taking the long way around to get to a location or campus.
  3. If you’re going to a place you’ve never been to before, try to look up directions prior to the trip. Having a general idea of which direction to proceed could save you mortifying experiences with panhandlers, thieves or others who look to take advantage of lost people.
  4. If taking the subway at night, try to get into the car with the conductor. They will always be in the very first subway car, with other conductors dispersed throughout the train.
  5. If you are feeling unsafe, call the police or find an officer. Although there is indisputable tension between the police and New Yorkers at this time, most officers can assist you with protection or help. Dial 911 to reach the NYPD.

Regardless of the time or event, knowing your surroundings and the necessary precautions that you can take to remain safe are of the utmost importance.