April 20, 2018

To our extended campus community,

The events of the past month have been devastating for the campus community and for me as president. Every day, I feel a sense of deep sadness for the deaths of two young people who came to us with high hopes and great promise. To have their lives cut short is a tragedy beyond our ability to express in words. We all grieve for Joao Souza, whose life ended tragically Sunday, April 15, even as we mourn the loss of Haley Anderson only weeks before. My meetings with their parents were the hardest moments I may ever experience. Their deaths are seared in my memory, and every day I think about what happened and how we can assure that nothing like this happens again.

As we remember Joao and Haley, we also begin the task of moving forward. I reaffirm to you that my top priority for our campus is safety. Binghamton University is committed to providing a safe learning environment, and focusing on ways to protect students, faculty and staff. Safety is also the top priority of my leadership team. While we already dedicate many resources to the care and protection of our students, we are all redoubling our efforts to develop and implement additional measures to foster a safer campus.

During this week we have taken the following steps:
• We have increased University Police presence in our residential communities and across campus.
• I've directed the chief of police to look into our emergency alert system and our emergency communications strategy.
• I've met with the Student Association and the incoming board members of the Student Association to discuss the event and gathered their feedback.
• We are accelerating the offerings of our programs on interpersonal violence, bystander intervention and personal safety.
• The vice president for student affairs has met with Mountainview residential assistants and residential staff will begin meeting with students in all of our residential communities to get their input on safety and security in our residence halls.
• The provost has asked all faculty to take into consideration how this tragedy might affect students and their work and to offer additional time to complete assignments if necessary.
• I've reached out to the SUNY chancellor and asked her for her recommendations, and she has offered to provide any support we need.
• We have received input from faculty members who have listened to their students speak about the recent tragedies and their perceptions of our response.
• We have looked at ways to enhance our programs and services that support the dean of students, CARE team and the University Counseling Center.
• I've asked the vice president for operations to begin gathering feedback from staff on campus on ideas for how safety and communications might be improved.
• I've scheduled a meeting for this Saturday with our Parents Leadership Council to reassure them of our commitment to student safety and to gain their perspectives on how students' families can be better informed.
• We will review our card access system and access privileges.

Over the coming weeks, I will keep you updated on the outcomes of all our initiatives.

We are a compassionate community, and we will continue to take care of those who are hurting in the wake of these horrific events. We are also a close-knit community and care genuinely about one another. Our compassion and our unity are what define us, and what will provide us with the strength to help us through this horrible experience.

Thank you, for all you have done and will continue to do to help friends who are in need at this difficult time.

Sincerely,

Harvey G. Stenger
President
hstenger@binghamton.edu

 

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Last Updated: 4/20/18