Montclair State University resident students are concerned about their safety on campus after the Bohn Hall robbery that took place on Nov. 11.
Pieer Zegarra, a senior language, business and culture major, said he is worried about living on campus after the news of the robbery broke out.
“After the incident, I’m definitely going to take more precautions while I stay on campus,” Zegarra said. “You never know when a situation like this can happen again at any part of campus.”
The school is home to over 5,300 resident students, living in dorms such as Freeman Hall or The Village. Most of the dorms have an RA (resident assistant) who makes sure students are safe by checking residents in at the front desk, so they know who is going in and out of the building. But some students believe this measure is not enough.
“I believe the school should [implement] more safety precautions because I believe that incidents like this can’t be happening at any college and even more when this is a place that students should feel safe while they are away from home,” Zegarra said.
For others, the incident did not raise any worries and they believe residence halls are a safe place. This is the case for Wilfredo Bruno, a senior psychology major, who also dorms in The Village.
“To be honest, I still feel safe, I feel like when we report something serious it is handled right away,” Bruno said. “It is just our job to say something as soon as possible. The police department is always on the lookout 24/7, they respond to any call during any time of day or night.”
Kieran Barrett, the chief of the Montclair State police department, shared his thoughts about students feeling concerned about living on campus following the Bohn Hall incident.
“The safety of our community members is always our highest priority, but there is no reason to feel there is increased risk to anyone’s safety,” Barrett said. “I understand that the fear of crime is real when we have certain incidents, so we always urge community members to be aware of situations and to empower themselves.”
According to Barrett, the incident does not necessitate any additional safety measures in the residence halls.
Students grew concerned after finding out that the robbers who were involved in the robbery were also individuals enrolled at the institution. Some students, like Zegarra, believe that one of the precautions the school should do is a background check on students for future reference.
“Although sometimes people should not be judged by whatever they did during their past I do agree some type of ‘check’ should be implemented to know more about the thousands of students that go here,” Zegarra said.
On the other hand, Bruno said background checks are a little extreme.
“I think that’s excessive and negligent to our student body,” Bruno said. “Especially those who may not feel comfortable doing a background check or those students who don’t know that a background check will not affect them in any way.”
Barrett shared his thoughts when asked if the school should implement background checks for future reference.
“Conducting background checks for all students would stigmatize certain students, which is not an environment we seek to create,” Barrett said. “Instead we work to ensure the safest possible environment for our community members and educate our community as much as possible. The overwhelming majority of our students and community members make positive decisions every day.”