Many Binghamton University students are outraged as a result of the University’s response, or lack thereof, to the shooting of local restaurant owner Shakeel Khan. Khan was shot at approximately 10 p.m. on Saturday, March 30. The suspect, wearing dark clothing and a mask, shot Khan multiple times as Khan closed his Johnson City restaurant, Halal Bites. The shooter has yet to be caught.
While police have yet to declare the incident as a hate crime, the University had yet to officially acknowledge the incident at all when it first occurred. A B-Line news announcement was sent out on April 5, nearly a week following the actual incident. In the six days it took the University to make a statement about the incident, student organizations on campus came together twice to compile a letter to University President Harvey Stenger, listing grievances with the University. The statement released by the University addressed the tragedy and that the University recognized the concerns of BU students in regard to safety. It also stated that B-Alerts are often not utilized when a “crime does not occur on or near University property” and that the University must decide whether to release a crime advisory warning.
Well, B-Alerts have been used for “outside incidents” before. On Sept. 16, 2018, the University sent out a B-Alert regarding shots fired in Johnson City, telling students to avoid the area. There was a follow-up saying the area was cleared. Even still, Halal Bites is close to BU’s new Pharmacy School and central to many off-campus residences.
Considering the time between the crime and an official release of a statement, I could not begin to fathom why the statement had been delayed. When the statement finally arrived, it didn’t feel like enough. If students who were concerned were able to gather and come up with a cohesive plan of action, why wasn’t the administration able to?
I spoke with Dheiva Moorthy, president of Decol A and a freshman double-majoring in environmental studies and sociology. Decol A is one of the many student organizations who met to send a letter to Stenger.
Moorthy stated that she had even called the dean of students this Friday to confirm the administration received the letter and to request to meet to address their concerns. She was told Stenger is unavailable for the next two weeks. The responsibility to make sure students feel protected should fall on those paid to run this institution, not those attending.
“It’s turned into hand-holding, where cultural organizations are helping the University do their job,” Moorthy stated.
Not to mention, the statement released by the administration barely covered the concerns of the 40 student organizations that signed the letter to Stenger.
Although the shooting hasn’t been officially deemed a hate crime, it also hasn’t been ruled out. Also, the killer has yet to be apprehended. That’s a pretty fair reason for students to feel unsafe.
You can’t use students of color and students of assorted religions simply to boost your diversity statistics and simultaneously ignore their legitimate concerns. Asian students make up 14 percent of the population here, but these students aren’t just statistics on a webpage. Moorthy put it best: “The way this has mobilized so quickly speaks to the pain of students of color.” Every single student deserves the feeling of safety and comfort from those responsible for it.
Elizabeth Short is a sophomore double-majoring in biology and English.