Last week, the lovely little parasite known as H1N1 - or "swine flu" made its way in force to the bountiful lands far above Cayuga's waters. At least five hundred students have been infected at Cornell, and there's one confirmed death. But for the most part, it's only mild bodily discomfort, even if it's that widespread. It doesn't compare to what, according to police, happened early Sunday morning in a residence hall on Hofstra's campus - a brutal rape. I won't rehash the details; for those, follow any or all of these links.
Newsday | New York Times | Fox News | WPIX | WCBS | WNBC | News 12 Long Island (subscription for non-Cablevision customers)
This is a totally despicable act, one that rightly casts a pall over the entire campus and community. The four suspects in custody, the one accomplice still at large, and anyone of like mind pollute our campus with their presence. I trust that the justice system will see that the perpetrators face justice and get the punishment they deserve.
There are a lot of questions in the air as this story unfolds. Chief among them is the length of time between the commission of the act and the university alerting its community - a time interval in excess of thirty-six hours. Not until 4:45 p.m. Monday was everybody notified. I understand that the campus alert system is designed for imminent threats to the campus, primarily of the weather variety. Hofstra should revisit that policy. The true gravity of the situation wasn't revealed to me until I walked out of the Student Center around 5:20 p.m., after having been in the library for three hours, and saw no less than six television news vans there. And for a university that has an entire school of communication, they certainly didn't choose the best words to convey the gravity of the situation. When I logged in to my "Portal," I saw only the words "Campus Notification" on the screen; not exactly an attention grabber. This afternoon, an "Incident Update" was released. I understand a desire to not force the details of the event down people's throats. And these updates were all solely within the Hofstra community. The official website is completely silent on the matter. I don't know anything about the process leading to that decision, or whether it accounts for the fact that one of the accused worked part time for Public Safety. But the truth is going to make its way out, and Hofstra has to take the lead on that front.
The maximum penalty under New York State law for these crimes is twenty-five years in prison. But if these "men" are found guilty of the alleged acts, what do I think should happen? Well, I think Samuel L. Jackson said it best in "A Time to Kill": yes they deserve to die, and I hope they burn in Hell!