Binghamton University President Harvey Stenger is pledging to review communication with students, faculty and staff in the aftermath of the fatal stabbing of engineering student Joao Souza, 19, in Mountainview College on Sunday night.
At a Friday morning press conference, Stenger spoke briefly on the events of the past week immediately before a BU Council meeting.
“We are at the end of a very busy week, a very complicated week,” Stenger said. “[It’s] a week that will probably be remembered for a very long time — how painful it was to go through the loss of another student.”
At a press conference on Monday night, Stenger promised to review the University’s security, safety and communication methods. While speaking on Friday, Stenger reaffirmed his commitment to discussing these issues, but said the conference and subsequent BU Council meeting were not the best places to do so. Rather, Stenger emphasized he wanted to focus on the grieving process on campus.
“We’re not here to dissect or to criticize or to measure everything that’s happened in the past week, there’s time for that,” Stenger said. “We will have those conversations, we will look at all of our procedures, again, we will look at everything that we did during this process and we will learn from it. But in the meantime, we’re hurt.”
Stenger also referenced a statement released by the University on Thursday, which addressed “frequently asked questions” about the incident. In the FAQ, the University responded to questions and criticism from students, parents and other community members about actions taken by police and BU officials in the 24 hours after the stabbing.
“There was never a manhunt on campus, though many areas of the campus were searched for evidence as part of the investigation,” the statement read. “The police were confident the campus was not at risk and that this was a targeted attack.”
The statement also addressed concerns that the initial B-Alert regarding the attack was not sent until roughly 45 minutes after the stabbing occurred, stating the message was issued as soon as police were able to assess the situation and gather necessary information. At Friday’s press conference, Stenger defended the timeliness of the alert, and said he did not feel it took too long for the University to notify students about the stabbing.
Nevertheless, students like Nuray Seyidzade, a first-year graduate student studying public affairs, are still worried the situation was not handled effectively. According to Seyidzade, the delay put students in danger.
“I understand they have regulations to follow, but because it occurred in the residence halls, other students were in danger,” Seyidzade said. “I think they could have done better.”
However, Dylan Nicholson, a freshman majoring in biology, agreed with Stenger and said he felt the alert was timely.
“I know there were a lot of complaints that there was a B-Alert sent out 45 minutes after the attack, but I didn’t think it was a huge deal,” Nicholson said. “I think they responded to it pretty well given the circumstances.”
According to Dean of Students April Thompson, the University is taking steps to review its communication and reach out to students for commentary. In an email, Thompson said administrators had met with several students in Mountainview College, including senior residents and members of the Mountainview College Council. Across campus, administrators have also spoken with resident assistants and faculty and staff.
The University will also be offering counseling services and educational programming, including personal safety training and a discussion on helping students in distress, which will also touch on interpersonal and dating violence.