Seton Hall Assault Called a Hoax, but Protest May Go On

UPDATE 7 P.M. Seton Hall University has just sent an email blast to students reporting that a female student who claimed to have been sexually assaulted in front of the library Tuesday night has recanted her story. But organizers of Monday’s protest still planned to go on. “We’re still very much concerned about security off and on campus,” says organizer William Suggs.

Following a sexual assault that took place at Seton Hall University on Tuesday night, students there are organizing a campus-wide walkout this coming Monday to protest what they see as inadequate security.

Seton Hall juniors William Suggs and Alexandra Hauenstein are calling for the campus community to protest what they see as a slow response by campus security.

The victim was sexually assaulted at 11 p.m. on Tuesday night as she left the main library for her dormitory.

“It’s more disturbing because it happened on campus,” Suggs told us in a telephone interview. “It happened at 11 p.m. It happened right in front of the library.”

“There’s been a series of security issues,” he added. “Seton Hall security hasn’t taken any responsiblity for this at all.”

The protest is planned on Monday, Nov. 22nd at 12:30 p.m. during classes.

Suggs, who sent out a news release, said he’s new to campus protest, as are most students at SHU, but he says 400 students have promised to attend. In an email, he added:

Security is not a new issue at Seton Hall, however most incidents have been isolated outside the gates of the campus. The weekend before the incident, two female students were assaulted on South Orange Avenue, immediately across the street from campus fences. In September, a man walked into an off-campus party with a handgun and fired randomly into the crowd. Four people were wounded and 19-year-old Seton Hall student, Jessica Moore, was killed.

While the shooting took place in nearby East Orange, numerous incidents around the campus of Seton Hall have been eschewed from the responsibility of campus security. Numerous services are available to students to help security including an on-campus escort service, rape aggression defense (RAD) courses, and a Campus Area Safety Escort (CASE) van that will transport students within .5 miles of campus. However, students complain that these services are unreliable and unfit to provide adequate security on campus after Tuesday’s incident and plan to show their frustration in protest.

Here is the message that Seton Hall sent to students and faculty this afternoon:

Following an investigation led by the Essex County Prosecutor?s Office, I am able to share with you that the sexual assault as previously reported in Wednesday?s safety alert to the community did not occur. The student who was involved in this incident has changed her report and indicated that she was not sexually assaulted by a stranger on campus. The University worked with the South Orange Police Department and the Essex County Prosecutor?s Office in reviewing her allegations.

We strive to provide a safe and secure environment for all members of the University community. In response to this matter, we enhanced our safety measures to include additional services to students and cooperated with local law enforcement to ensure that all measures for campus security and safety are maintained. The safety and security of all on our campus continues to be our paramount concern.

Laura A. Wankel, Ed.D.

Vice President for Student Affairs

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