By Mike Sherr
A lot happens at the College. Every day thousands of students attend classes, eat food on campus and fall asleep in the College’s dorms. Obviously, things can go wrong at every corner of the College, and it is near impossible to keep track of every little thing. Some things, however, are too big to not talk about.
About two months ago, for example, the College made the decision to lock all academic buildings after there were threats against Ewing public schools. This action was done out of an “abundance of caution,” according to a TCNJ Alerts message. Students were told that they would have access to buildings if they used their student ID. This did not happen, leaving students stuck outside during the about two hour period.
Just as recently as this week, another major event rocked the campus community. Rider University, just two miles away from the College, was placed under lockdown after a threat was called into their Department of Public Safety. It was eventually declared a hoax but not without distress to students at Rider. Students at the College heard about the lockdown through friends, family members and The Signal’s brief breaking news story.
This scary event took place just over a week after a shooting in Nashville that killed six including three children and a day before shelter in place announcements for Fairleigh Dickinson University, St. Elizabeth University and Drew University in North Jersey.
My point here is that all of these events involve the campus community or are related to students and their safety.
What has the College said to students, family and community members? Nothing. No statement, no press release and no mention of any of these issues anywhere. In fact when you check the College’s news page you will only see feature-style stories promoting the institution.
I don’t doubt that the College’s administration is working on these issues and many others that we do not even know about, but where is the transparency?
In the past, the College has made public statements on Covid-19, Monkeypox, dining issues and unfortunate deaths in the community. Last year, President Katheryn Foster made two statements through email to the College community about deadly shootings in New York and California, as well as the shooting in Uvalde.
While no one was hurt during these recent incidents, they are scary and anxiety driving. They deserve to be treated as events that impact the campus.
Myself and my colleagues at The Signal regularly work with members of the administration to provide information to the campus community. I’m sure that if I or a staff writer asks Foster for a comment on the recent threats, we would be given a statement about what the College is doing to protect the campus and some solidarity with the universities that have experienced these issues. There are some things, however, that the College should say on their own.
Where is the College’s voice? With a silent administration, students are left to think about what could happen on their own. It is the College’s responsibility to soothe concerns and anxieties, especially in a time where students across the country are afraid of spontaneous mass shootings.