After two separate criminal incidents involving Oswego State students, two weekends ago, and a lack of communication from campus officials on the campus’ safety, the question of student safety has been raised.
The Syracuse Post-Standard reported on Sept. 12, 20-year-old Nicholas Kerber of 909 Onondaga Hall was charged with five misdemeanors off campus on Sept. 9, after making unwanted advances on a female student and dropping her over a rail, ultimately causing her injuries that needed medical attention.
The Post-Standard reported that two women, who lived off-campus, left a house party around 3 a.m. and Kerber went with them. The twowomen did not know Kerber but on the way back he repeatedly touched their behinds while continually being told to stop.
According to Oswego City police Chief Charles Tonkin’s account, when arriving at the victim’s house, Kerber had pushed the victim onto the rail and attempted to touch and kiss her while standing in between her legs.
While the victim was on top of the railing, Kerber grabbed her and continuously tipped her back pretending to make her fall. Soon, Kerber did drop her causing her to fall and sustain injuries to her head and legs. She was later taken to the Oswego Hospital by paramedics.
The victim then tried to go into her house and get her roommates for help, but Kerber restrained her. When she did get inside, Kerber followed. He was told to leave several times. It was not until one of her roommates forcibly removed him that Kerber left.
He was arrested the morning of Sept. 9 and charged with third-degree assault, second-degree reckless endangerment, forcible touching, second-degree unlawful imprisonment and second degree criminal trespass.
According to the Syracuse Post-Standard, Tonkin said University Police was notified but did not take part in the investigation. Oswego State officials are made aware of student conduct off campus. Kerber is still listed to be on campus
9th floor suite in Onondaga Hall in the Residence Life and Housing student database.
A campus-wide announcement was sent to students on Sept. 8 from Oswego State President Deborah Stanley.
“Sexual assault is any unwanted sexual contact. We take immediate and determined action when we learn of any violation of this nature,” it read. “We investigate all reports, whether or not a formal complaint has been filed. Any person or any organization found culpable in a sexual assault will not remain a member of our college community.”
The announcement did not include any public reports revealing that these offenses concerned students on campus.
This incident happened about 48 hours after 18-year-old Charles Fofie was charged with one count of criminal trespass in the second degree, a class A misdemeanor; resisting arrest, a class A misdemeanor; and harassment, a second degree violation for allegedly trespassing in female suites in Onondaga Hall.
After the alleged trespassing on Sept. 4 at 4:51 a.m., the victim, who wished to remain anonymous, was disappointed with the administration and its lack of response.
Other students feel that the administration should be informing the student body when incidents like these concern students on campus. In this case, both sets of incidents were all Oswego State students.
“I think they should have taken the time to comment,” freshman Craig Furey said. “It is obviously a safety precaution, for some students. Their welfare could be at stake when something like this happens and it should just be something people should know about. In an event that a student is released from custody, it would further provoke other students that may potentially be affected by this kind of thing to take their average safety precautions and to be cautious overall.”
Yet, other students feel that there are boundaries between being informed and invading the privacy of others.
“I think that we should have an idea of what is going on, but because things like that are confidential, you don’t wait to put their privacy out there,” junior Maayan Schreibman said. “We understand he did something wrong, but it is none of our business.”
In any incident where a student is arrested by any police force, the university is informed and the Dean of Students Office starts a judicial process.
A judicial hearing takes place where a group of students, professors and administrators go over the proceedings and discuss the disciplinary actions according to the type of case.
“All cases are adjudicated in our conduct process and depending on the severity and the student’s conduct history – that is what is considered throughout,” Lisa Evaneski, associate dean of students, said. “Most of the time, in all types of cases – students have a right to due process. If they are found responsible for any charge, regardless of arrest, they will be sanctioned accordingly after the hearing is complete.”
Once an investigation is ongoing, the administration cannot give any specific information about the case.
The administration has not yet informed the campus as a whole about the happenings of these reports when it concerns the campus.
“They [the administration] should definitely let students know that this happened to remind people that you should always be safe,” freshman Anna Beggel said.
At this time there is no mention of the administration’s actions toward keeping students informed about incidents involving Oswego State students.