Deans Address Recent YSU Shooting

Linda Gates, Molly Tyson, and Marjorie Burton

To the Editors:

An Associated Press news story this past weekend reported a death and several injuries at Youngstown State University, a college community of less than 15,000 students in a city near the Ohio-Pennsylvania border. This story reminds us all that things can go rapidly wrong from a seemingly ordinary situation — attendance at an off-campus party in a college-affiliated house. Two men who had been ejected from a party at the house were arrested in the fatal shooting that left one dead, one seriously injured, and a number of others who were treated for injuries and released. Six of the 10 less seriously injured were YSU students. The student who was fatally wounded, a well-respected student known in the YSU community for his leadership, was reported to have been trying to separate people involved in a disagreement.

The offices of Safety and Security, Residential Education and the Dean of Students acknowledge that students on and off campus will host or attend parties, and we want students and the community to be as safe as possible. Below are a few reminders of some of the steps you can take when hosting and/or attending a party on or off campus: • Reduce your risks in planning a social event by limiting the number of invitations, inviting only people you know (a closed party) and having a plan for unwelcome guests. These steps may help reduce problems associated with overcrowding, noise and disruptive behavior. • Consult with ResEd staff, who can help you plan an authorized party in Village Housing with as little as 48 hours advance notice. The office also can provide guidelines for students living off campus. If you live off campus, the Oberlin Police Department is happy to meet with you before your party to advise you on how to manage the event or report a party that grows too large and to discuss your responsibility as a host of a party where alcohol is being consumed. • Protect your house and occupants by securing individual bedrooms and storing valuables behind locked doors. For fire safety, do not allow smoking inside. (A cigarette can smolder in a couch and ignite later after everyone is asleep.) Do not hold your party in a basement or attic space, which restricts exits. • Manage the guest list. A packed house can quickly get out of control; the safest party is one with a guest list at the door. Misuse of alcohol can severely impede judgment and blur boundaries for acceptable behavior. Plan to have a sober host who can determine when to seek outside assistance. • Take action when your senses tell you to do so. If something seems wrong or if your gathering grows beyond the approved number of guests, contact Safety and Security (440-775-8444) if you live in Village Housing on campus, or the Oberlin Police Department (440-774-1061, or 9-1-1 for an emergency) if you live off campus. (The College judicial process acknowledges consideration of those who report or request assistance in advance of a security or police response.)

Staff members in the offices of Residential Education (440-775-8472) or Safety and Security will meet with you in advance of your party to help you learn about handling common problems. A printed pamphlet for off-campus and Village Housing party planning, the Planning a Party Guide, also is available in ResEd, Safety and Security, and in the Dean of Students offices.

–Linda Gates,
Dean of Students
–Molly Tyson,
Director of Residential Education
–Marjorie Burton,
Director of Safety and Security