VIDEO EXCLUSIVE: Students unaffected by LaSalle rapes

By Ashley Weyler
October 21, 2004

Maria DeVirgiliis

It is seven o’clock on Thursday night. Most students are “pre-gaming” for the Thirsty Thursday festivities, but 22 year-old Melissa Landrin, a senior elementary education major, is walking back from class to her apartment. As soon as she arrives, there is a certain aura in the air. It’s an exciting feeling that makes Thursday nights so special on Cabrini’s campus.
Landrin hops on the shower and consumes a few drinks while she gets herself ready for the night. She and her roommates then have a few drinks together before Melissa makes her rounds to various apartments in the building. “By midnight, we all get a little more rowdy but never too out-of-control. We just like to act stupid and let loose because it’s the beginning of the weekend,” Landrin said.
Landrin and her friends appear to be celebrating the end of the week somewhat responsibly. They have never experienced any type of danger, just pure fun.
Unfortunately, not all female students who party on college campuses are so lucky. LaSalle University, located in North Philadelphia, has experienced its share of drama in the past year. Two basketball players, Michael Cleaves and Gary Neal, were charged with raping a female visitor during its summer basketball camp. Another woman, a LaSalle student and basketball player, accused Dzalo Larki of raping her in 2003—He was arrested and charged. The woman apparently went to the coaches of the women’s and men’s basketball teams, but they urged her to not go to authorities. Both the coaches were fired over the incident.
This does not mean that LaSalle University is an unsafe environment. Many students are doing what they can to prevent such events from happening again and to make the campus a safe place to be. The Dean of Students at LaSalle, Joseph J. Cicala, Ph.D., has addressed a letter to the community that students have come forward with helpful information to progress the investigation and that police are very grateful. Cicala said, “ Thanks to the very, very great majority of you who continue to make LaSalle University the kind of purposeful, positive, and caring community that makes so many of us proud to be Lasallians.”
Elise Keppler, a junior nursing major and tour guide at LaSalle, said, “Most families have been very understanding about the whole situation, merely commenting about the unfortunate fact that LaSalle has received some bad press lately, which brings down the image of the school.” Keppler is also a resident on campus. She said that LaSalle is effectively enforcing the guest policy, which states that a guest of the opposite sex can be signed in only between the hours of 12 p.m. and 2 a.m. “I think enforcing the guest policy is an attempt to send a positive image, but I do not think that it will actually solve anything” Keppler said.
Director of Public Safety, Charles Schaffner, believes that Cabrini is a safe campus. Schaffner said Cabrini is looking at how they report sexual assault cases to the authorities more thoroughly. It really depends on if the victim wants to report the incident. “We are trying to make everyone aware of the problem that is an epidemic on campus: propping doors so that anyone one can get in can result in sexually assault, theft, or breaking in and entering,” Schaffner said. So far this year, two sexual assaults have been reported, both occurred during parties. Schaffner said that responsible alcohol intake will eliminate problems. As a result, there is an increase of patrols in the residence halls. “We have to have cooperation of the student body, if someone sees something, call. I encourage female students to travel in groups, or call for a public safety officer to come pick you up,” Schaffner said.
Carrie Kirsch, a sophomore social work major and transfer student, said public safety is doing a fairly good job patrolling the campus; however, she thinks that more can be done. “I feel that Cabrini could install more lights, because some of the campus is still very dark. Of course female students are going to be in more danger than males, but so far in my first year at Cabrini, I have not encountered any instances where I have felt jeopardized,” Kirsch said.
Faith Lynch, a freshman biology and pre-med major, said, “I feel safe on campus. I mean, that is if I walk with other people, but I get kind of spooked when I walk alone. I doubt rapes like those at LaSalle would happen here at Cabrini.”
Landrin thinks that Cabrini has one of the safest campuses in the Philadelphia area and even the country. When she has to go park at the Dixon Center, she either calls public safety to pick her up, or picks up one of her friends to walk back with her. “I don’t feel that I am in any danger at all as a female student. As long as I make the right decisions, especially when partying, I don’t feel I am in any danger,” Landrin said.

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Ashley Weyler

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