Some students at New Jersey’s Rutgers University say they won’t walk near campus alone after dark anymore. A petition criticizing administration officials has garnered more than 2,000 signatures. A top university official was reported to have questioned a decision not to alert students after a disturbing nearby crime, reports the Wall Street Journal. Since a former Rutgers University student was killed near campus last month, an atmosphere of anxiety has gripped the school and highlighted the issue of what higher-education institutions should tell their students about public safety.
William McCaw, the former student, was found dead in the backyard of a home in an off-campus area where many Rutgers students live. He died of blunt-force trauma in an incident ruled a homicide by the Middlesex County prosecutor. Students said they didn’t receive an email or text-message alert from Rutgers after the death, though the annual campus-security and fire-safety report says such an alert will be sent “in the event that a crime occurs, either on or near campus…that constitutes a threat.” “Any information we got came from the media,” said Jacob Nieman, a Rutgers junior. “There wasn’t a concern for safety here. Someone was killed in an area we thought was safe. There’s shell shock.”