Crime sweeps Cabrini

By Kelly Finlan
November 6, 2003

Aegina Foto, a junior English/communications major, walks quickly along the trail between the houses on Residential Boulevard with her cell phone pressed against her head. She just left her room in House 6, but she is talking to her roommate.

“I’ll talk on my cell phone the whole time, especially by the house because it’s dark,” Foto said.

Foto is one of many students who is becoming increasingly afraid of individual travel on campus, given the recent influx of violent crime.

“The level of confrontation and confrontational violence on campus has really escalated this year,” Charlie Schaffner, the director of Public Safety, said. The Radnor Police Department was called 15 times in September alone, according Schaffner. This is a significant jump from the 18 incidents for the entire 2002-2003 school year.

“Lately you can see Radnor cops here at least once a weekend. I felt safer when I first came to Cabrini,” senior Christina Casale said.

Physical assault

Shouts filled the air on Saturday, Nov. 1, as a group of women, returning home from a Halloween party, were accosted and assaulted by three men who do not attend Cabrini.

“One of them started harassing us,” one of the girls involved said. “We ignored it for a while, but he wouldn’t leave us alone. I ran up to him to ask what his problem was.”

As she approached the assailant, he grabbed her by her hair and threw her to the ground. She incurred injuries to her head, chin and leg.

“When my friends saw what happened, they were absolutely nuts,” she said. One began yelling at the attacker. She, too, was thrown to the ground. A yelling match ensued. A public safety officer stationed in the Cabrini Apartment Complex heard the commotion and called for back up.

On her way home from another party, Michelle Ward, a junior social work and psychology major, saw her friends in the physical altercation with the unknown men. She and a friend watched as one of the assailants walked over to a white van.

“I didn’t see the gun, but I saw the guy put something down the front of his sweatpants,” Ward said.

Radnor police arrived shortly thereafter. A Tredyffrin Township K-9 unit was called in to search the woods for the gun. The area, the men and their van were searched, but no gun was ever recovered.

One of the attackers was arrested and held on $25,000 bail.

“This is way beyond anything we were looking at before. It’s almost like their first option is to fight. I don’t know how we’re going to get around it, but we have to stop it,” Schaffner said. He went on to say that “fistic adventures,” fistfights and physical assaults, are up dramatically from last year.

Physical incidents among students have occurred in Woodcrest, Xavier, and New Residence Hall since mid-October.

“I’m a lot more cautious now,” Ward said. “I’d never seen a gun before. It’ really changed my perspective.”


Nonviolent crime is up as well. A series of thefts, starting shortly after the beginning of the academic year, left residents looking for everything from Playstation 2s and laptops to cash.

Senior Rich Magda, a senior English/communications major and resident of the CAC, was robbed on early Friday morning, Oct. 31. When he woke up that morning, he found his wallet in a different place and $55 that was there the night before was conspicuously missing.

“I blamed myself at first, but we started putting pieces together,” Magda said. Magda’s roommate Dan Varra, a senior fine arts major, recalled finding a man in the hallway of the apartment.

“I opened my door and he was standing right there,” Varra said. “I didn’t see him taking anything, but he was acting really, really shady.”

“We heard rumor that it was a guy that’s not allowed on campus anymore because of a past incident,” Magda said. “We couldn’t get in touch with him so we couldn’t do any more than file a report with Public Safety.”

Sexual Assaults

Sexual assault is a crime that plagues college campuses nationwide. The National College Women Sexual Victimization Study reports that between 20 percent and 25 percent of women in college have experienced a sexual assault or an attempted sexual assault, and 7.7 percent of students have been “forced to have sexual intercourse when they did not want it,” according to the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance Survey.

Rumors of sexual assault have circulated throughout campus, leading some to further question campus safety.

Although Public Safety has received no report of sexual assault this year, a few students recall an attack in the CAC on early Saturday morning, Oct. 18. Alcohol was involved, but the police were not.

“She’s pretending it never happened,” the victim’s friend said. Thirty-seven percent of sexual assault victims do not report the crimes.

The Campus Responds

Residents and non-residents alike have taken notice of the dramatic increase in crime on Cabrini’s campus.

“I had the impression, coming into Cabrini that this place was safe. I found out after I got here about incidents that are pretty serious,” freshman Madeline Morehouse said. “Before I heard about all the incidents happening around campus, I wouldn’t have thought twice about it, but now that I know that stuff has been happening I’m not going to walk by myself.”

“I feel safe because I’m never here at night,” sophomore Darlene LoPresti, a commuter, said.

Public Safety is currently shorthanded, according to Schaffner, and they are looking to hire more officers. He went on to say that he, as an agent of Public Safety, and George Stroud, as an agent of Residence Life, are at their “wits’ end.”

“For some reason it has gotten really out of hand this year. It’s far above what it’s ever been before,” Schaffner said.

With additional reporting by Kristen Catalanatto and Kendall Neil

Posted to the web by Angelina Wagner

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Kelly Finlan

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