Making A Case For A Safe Place

Cartoon by Julie Gunderson.
Cartoon by Julie Gunderson.
Cartoon by Julie Gunderson.

Within the span of one week, two incidents of gun violence both on and off-campus have shaken the university and Town of New Paltz and have caused concerns of safety for both students and community members.

While these incidents of violence are very rare, there was a similar event in 2001.

We at The New Paltz Oracle would foremost like to express our condolences to the families of the victim and to the woman injured in last Saturday’s shooting. We also extend our relief that no one from the SUNY New Paltz community was hurt during these incidents.

Nevertheless, when a life-threatening circumstance has the potential to cut the thread that binds our mostly safe and friendly community, both the university and the town have specific roles to play in reestablishing the mostly tranquil ambiance New Paltz holds. They should provide reassurance that these incidents, however scarce they may be, will be taken seriously and responded to actively.

While many students were not present at these recent situations, there were many New Paltz students in the nearby areas when these incidents took place. Undoubtedly, the impact upon those both near and far from the incidents can and will have a lasting impact upon a students psyche and their level of apprehension leaving inner-campus after dark.

With the ball in the university’s court and student uncertainty about their security in question, it is time for SUNY New Paltz to hold an open discussion between students, campus police and town police about these episodes.

This forum is necessary for New Paltz students to discuss their feelings about what has happened in our town last week and whatever concerns they may have.

In turn, we believe the officers that police both the campus and town should reiterate the importance of the personal precautions to be taken, regardless if the student is on campus or in town. We are UPD’s responsibility while on campus, but the town’s otherwise, and their input on these situations should be presented and welcomed by both parties.

We acknowledge that the character of this school and town is founded on a calm atmosphere, conducive to the feeling of security and immunity from danger. But the fact remains that the campus of New Paltz is an open campus, and that this town’s amenities attract people from outside of our quaint community.

The vulnerability and risk that plagues some outside communities — vulnerabilities that we as SUNY New Paltz students are not accustomed to — become a reality that many students may overlook. It is important for us to remember that we are not free from the realities of the world, and it is imperative to pay a constant diligence to your surroundings, travel with groups, and always listen to your instincts, wherever you may be.

We at The Oracle also acknowledge that Murphy’s Restaurant and Pub, where the latter incident took place, is a popular hub of New Paltz student nightlife. Organizations host events there, sports teams host formals and in general, it is a common place for students at New Paltz to frequent on the weekends.

While New Paltz is a college town, it is a small town. There are a handful of bars that most students attend for nightlife, and during the school year, the student population makes of a significant amount of these bars’ incomes. It is a mutually advantageous relationship that now has the possibility of being severed due to these incidents.

We hope that the local bars and late night establishments reciprocate with new protocol that elevates concern from students’ minds and upholds safe spaces. We believe elevated precautions such as pat-downs or metal detectors would be a welcomed addition by any New Paltz student who is looking to have a good time within a safe and welcoming place they have come to love.

Ultimately, the police and security can only do so much. If you see something suspicious, say something. By doing so, you could help someone in danger and possibly save a life.