I personally did not know Jason Greene, in fact, I don’t even think I ever spoke one word to him, but that shouldn’t matter. In November of 2015, Greene, a fellow student, was left in critical condition after being attacked at the Ice House Bar. Some news outlets reported this, including Pipe Dream, but it was largely forgotten after the initial incident.
After a year, I noticed that he had not returned to school, so I decided to look for him through social media. He could not walk and has been in rehab since the attack, but no one knew about this. I asked around and spoke to students about the event and I was met with shock — most people didn’t know what he was going through. If this were to happen on campus, the University would notify students immediately, but because Jason stepped off campus, he did not receive the same treatment. There were many students there who witnessed and gossiped about the event, but the person responsible was never caught; Jason never received justice. Our University and student body could have done so much more. This is why I believe we must change the school’s culture surrounding off-campus safety.
After the attack, barely anyone came forward. There was no B-Line news addition, no announcement, no official statement from the University. It feels as though the University has a hands-off approach to off-campus students and situations. It should not matter where a student is when he is attacked and left for dead. We should be notified; God knows how many students saw that attack but didn’t know who to go to or what to do. We shouldn’t push his case under the rug. Even if you live on campus for all your college years, eventually you will step off campus. We are part of the community and want to know that the school will respond fairly if something were to happen to us off campus.
My goal is to help provide students with information they need to stay safe and prevent incidents like Jason’s, which is why I am pushing for the University to be more diligent about updating B-Line when unsafe events happen off campus. Additionally, so many students learn safety through trial and error, but that isn’t necessary — there are so many resources and people who have tips and experiences to offer. That is why Elizabeth Carter, who is the assistant vice president for student development at Binghamton University and teaches social psychology, and I have been working on providing orientations for students who plan to move off campus, and freshmen and new transfers. If the University wants to provide for the safety of its new students, it should help inform on how to behave and how to respond to certain experiences.
Such training would help us avoid being bystanders. Carter feels that it is important for us to realize that in social settings, our responses may be indicative of the bystander effect — when the presence of others inhibits someone’s inclination to help, pluralistic ignorance — if others aren’t reacting, we think there’s nothing to react to, diffusion of responsibility — the belief that someone else will help, and audience inhibition — being scared of how others will perceive us. We need to become aware of these typical responses to help reduce bystander nonintervention.
I truly want justice for Jason Greene, and I feel as though I let him down as a student. I was there at the Ice House Bar and didn’t even know. If I had pushed for these things earlier, maybe someone would have come forward. Maybe his family would have peace right now. I live with that weight on my shoulders, and I feel we all should. He was a student. He went to events and sat in our classes, and everyone just forgot about him. That could have been anyone. And I want to prevent this from happening again. It seems as though every semester a new student is dead or critically injured. It’s about time we start educating students and providing the resources to prevent these tragedies and, if they do happen, properly respond to them.
Oluwaseun Majekodunmi is a senior majoring in biology.