Villanova Public Safety blatantly disregarded the security of every individual on this campus by waiting three days to notify the student body and faculty of a violent crime committed towards an undergraduate. Public Safety then waited another day to notify the student body of five other reports that occurred on campus.
On March 3, Villanova University announced five reports of sexual assaults, including sexual harassment and rape on campus. However, there is a massive discrepancy between when the crimes were reported and when the student body was informed.
The actual time stamps of the incidents are as follows: five reports of varying sexual violations on March 2 at 10:00 a.m. and Feb. 28 at 10:52 p.m., according to Public Safety’s Public Crime Log.
Why did it take so long to report to the rest of the student body that there are sexual offenders on campus? If Villanova Public Safety was aware of a reported sexual assault on February 28th, why was the student body not informed of the incident until three days later?
Crimes of this caliber are subject to certain local, criminal justice procedures, in order to work in accordance with civil liberties. Regardless of how Public Safety officers were potentially starting their investigation into these reports, they still had an obligation to inform the student body in order to protect them.
I commend Public Safety in its ability to identify the perpetrator and take action against him. However, its response was less than adequate when arming the students and faculty with certain answers. The answers would have included what actually happened to the perpetrator. Was he expelled? Was he asked nicely to leave but can still take his classes online? Was he arrested? I appreciate that the predator was supposedly dealt with, but why does it feel like it is all a big secret?
The tardy email Villanova students received was labelled as a “Safety Alert,” and yet it had the opposite effect. A “safety alert” or timely warning is described on Villanova’s Student Life website as “a way for the University to provide timely notification to members of the University community about reports of serious crimes that have occurred on or within the Clery geography of Villanova University.”
“Timely.” “Timely” and “serious crimes.” Sexual assault allegations definitely fit into the serious crimes category. Considering the differences of Villanova’s reaction time to the reports and the notification of the student body, there was nothing “timely” about their reaction time at all.
Additionally, the University notes that the use of safety alerts differs on a case-to-case basis. This is understandable considering the uniqueness in every case of sexual violence. In relation to the report given to the University on Feb. 28, the details are left unknown about who the perpetrator might be. This in itself is a cause for concern. How can the University have an understanding of the student body’s safety if the perpetrator is not known and the case is left open?
Finally, University President Rev. Peter M. Donohue O.S.A., Ph. D. sent an email to the entire student body the day following Public Safety’s Safety Alert, March 4th. The email was about the University’s brand new sustainability plan. Yes, sustainability is important. However, the safety of the entire student body seems to be a far more pressing matter at the moment. This email, with a subject line of “Student Health and Well-being Survey'' from Father Peter in the wake of several reports of violent sexual crimes was tone-deaf.
The reports that have come to light in the past few days have shown Villanova’s gross negligence to keep its students safe. Students walked around campus for three days with the belief that they were protected, when in reality, they were not.
I am utterly disappointed in the way that Villanova University Public Safety and other Officials have reacted and communicated these severe reports. I feel incredibly unsafe and unsupported by the University I called home.
Sexual Assault Resource Center: 484-343-6028
Public Safety: 610-519-5800
Villanova Title IX Coordinator, Ms. Ryan Rost: 610-519-8805
National Sexual Assault Hotline: 1-800-656-4673