More than two weeks have passed since the campus shooting that left two people, including a former St. John’s student, wounded. And after much talk from the Rev. Donald J. Harrington, C.M., president of St. John’s about procedural reviews of security, public safety has noticeably beefed up its presence in the residential village.
“There’s an increased security presence of vehicle and foot patrol sometimes during the week,” said executive director of public safety, Gerard McEnerney.
Additional security has also been brought in from an outside company to guard the emergency exits of the residence halls. McEnerney said that these groups were added because of previous incidents in which residents were using the doors to leave their buildings. “We want to insure the rear doors are not being used as a form of egress,” he said.
The increases in officer patrols and emergency exit guards are among the most recent actions taken by the university to upgrade campus security. Immediately after the shootings, an extra guard was added to the front gate and only residents were allowed on campus. After 2 a.m. non-residents may not enter the campus. A St. John’s student being driven onto campus must be left at Gate One and will be escorted back to the residence halls by an officer.
Reaction among students to the new procedures has been mixed. “I think it’s pretty worthless,” said sophomore communications major Ryan Breslin. “If someone wants to come in, they can get in.”
“Security is not a real issue here for me,” Briarwood Hall resident Ermin Siljkovic said. “I don’t feel threatened at all.” He commended Public Safety’s reaction to the shooting. “Besides them not checking that the shooter had I.D. everything was cool.”
“I think they handled the shooting good,” Siljkovic said, “After the kid got shot, they took care of it in like five minutes.”
Harrington has vowed to continue beefing up campus safety. He is awaiting the findings of a full review of security by former New York City Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly.
“Mr. Kelly is talking with all facets of the university, including administrative staff,” McEnerney said. “We’re all in this together. Everybody wants to ensure that the campus is safe.”
“I think it’s a good idea,” Breslin said. “It shows that they care about what has happened.”
Not all students are convinced, though, that better safety will result from Kelly’s assessment. “I think the entire thing is just one giant front,” said sophomore computer science student Robert Jenkins. “They need to overturn a lot of policies but they’re not going to do it. They’re just probably going to keep making quick fixes till things collapse. Then they might.”
“The whole thing is a public relations cover-up,” Siljkovic said, “They just want to show the new incoming students that they’ve done something to improve safety.”
Jenkins said that establishing activities on campus and lifting strict rules on alcohol would keep students from being forced to leave campus and would limit the amount of problems brought in from off-campus.
“They need to start making a community for the people who live here,” he said. “Right now they don’t have one, which is the reason people are leaving the dorms.”