By Haley Rydowkski, Angela Alfano, Brian Riley
LIU Post is an open campus to the public and its students. Anyone can enter freely and leave when they wish. There is no security that monitors who enters and leaves campus from either main entrance on Northern Boulevard.
During the week before spring break, a man who is allegedly neither a student nor an employee of LIU entered campus and was seen wandering around, approaching several female undergraduate students.
According to Alyssa Estevez, a senior public relations major, the man approached her on Wednesday, March 2 at approximately 11:15 a.m. outside Humanities Hall. Estevez described the man to be around 23-25 years old, of the Indian race, short and with a scruffy beard. He was wearing a leather jacket and plaid shirt. The man was wandering around campus, randomly approaching girls, starting conversations and asking them a bunch of questions, according to Estevez.
Estevez described her conversation with the man as follows: “Hey, I don’t mean to bother you and I know you’re way out of my league, but I just wanted to tell you that you’re very pretty.” She stated that she replied, “Oh, thank you,” and when he proceeded to try to ask more questions, she continued walking. She said, “He then asked me for a hug because I made his day, which I politely declined. He said that he was on his break but he looked like he didn’t even go to school here. He even went to try and kiss me, but I had to quickly say that I was married so he could leave me alone. I literally almost ran to class because it freaked me out!”
A similar situation occurred to Jacklyn Stringham, a senior public relations major, on the same day. “I never would have believed it if my friend Alyssa didn’t run into class describing the same situation I had to deal with about 2 minutes before,” she said. “He randomly came up to me and started to speak to me and ask me about a million questions. He told me that he goes here, but for some reason I really don’t think he does.”
Public Relations professor Arlene Pelota said that the students handled the situation appropriatley. “It’s hard on an open campus, because you can’t discriminate against people, and you have to allow everyone to come in. This is why I have always taught my daughters to make sure they are aware of what is happening around them. Situations like this happen all the time, and can have a worse outcome. I’m so glad our students were smart enough to get away from him as fast as they could.”
Another incident involving an individual who was allegedly not a student occurred on campus on Thursday, March 17. LIU Post sent a campus-wide email at 5:39 p.m. on that date alerting the community that an incident had been reported to Public Safety. The four sentence email revealed only that “Public Safety and local response units were on site” and encouraged individuals to, as always, “be alert, exercise caution for their personal safety, and report any suspicious activity to Public Safety at (516) 299-2222.” The e-mail did not state what the “incident” was.
Upon receiving the first email, Courtney Kay, a senior psychology major, immediately left her experimental psychology class and called Public Safety. “The email was so vague. They didn’t even say whether we were safe or not,” she said. “When I called Public Safety, they said they couldn’t tell me anything,” Kay continued. Stunned by their words, she asked if students were safe on campus, and the Public Safety representative replied that students are safe. Kay said she found out that a girl had been found handcuffed with a bag over her head later that night from reading Newsday online.
The Pioneer received reports from students and faculty that helicopters were flying above campus grounds on March 17 and that the gates at the entrances had been locked, with a Public Safety vehicle presence.
The university sent an email update about the incident at 6:57 p.m. on March 17, informing the campus community that a 27 year old female had been found near campus and that it was a purported suicide attempt. According to a representative from Public Safety, the location of the incident “technically was 2-feet off” campus grounds and the young woman was a former LIU Post student.
Local news media reported on the March 17 incident as well. News 12 Long Island reported that “a young woman was found in a wooded area near the LIU Post campus Thursday afternoon, but she does not appear to be a victim of assault. Detectives tell News 12 that the woman was not attacked. They believe she tried to kill herself.” Newsday reported that “Nassau County police confirmed that a 27-year-old woman was found on Thursday, March 17, 2016, by LIU Post security guards, who heard screaming for help in the woods near the school. Police said the woman, who had not been identified on Thursday evening, had her hands tied behind her back and a bag taped covering her head. Police said the woman, who attempted to commit suicide, was taken to a hospital, although they said she had no apparent injuries.”
The Nassau County Police Department referred The Pioneer’s request for information about the incident to the Matinecock Police Department, and the Matinecock Police Department did not provide the public record of the incident.
According to a Public Safety representative, because the matter at hand was declared a suicide attempt, it does not qualify as a public record. Thus, Public Safety stated that there is no incident report available from the university.
The office of Public Safety has not responded to multiple inquiries from the Pioneer about the wandering guest who approached students on March 2. According to the Public Safety page on the LIU website, “The Department of Public Safety is committed to providing a safe and secure environment for students, faculty, staff and visitors on the LIU Post in Brookville, NY. We provided safety and security services by foot, bicycle and vehicle patrol 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Public Safety Officers on the LIU Post are licensed by the State of New York and are trained, certified and registered pursuant to the New York State Security Guard Act of 1992.”