Despite widespread concern about student safety in Collegetown, an event held on Monday to address the recent sexual assaults was completely deserted.
Cornell administrators and Cornell University Police Department, along with the Cornell Collegetown Student Council, planned the meeting to address the topics surrounding assaults, stalking and safety in Collegetown — but had to cancel it when not a single individual attended the event.
CUPD Chief Kathy Zoner said that with more than 20,000 students on campus and a wide array of programs available, not every event is going to be attended.
“Sometimes they have to make decisions,” she said about the variety of opportunities available to members of the community.
While the meeting, held at St. Luke’s Church on Oak Ave., did not attract students, the Sexual Violence Prevention Working Group met on campus at the same time — drawing nearly 40 attendees, and possibly deterring attendance at the event in Collegetown.
Shuangyi Hou ’14, a student who attended the other working group meeting on campus, said she was impressed by the number of students in attendance at that meeting.
“I did not expect the level of student engagement that occurred at the meeting, but I was pleasantly surprised by it,” she said.
Given the low turnout at the Collegetown meeting Monday, CUPD officers who were supposed to run the event said they worried that people would also not attend future events regarding the recent crime alerts, such as the Annual Campus Lighting Walk that will take place Thursday. On the walk, groups of students will go around campus finding areas that are not well lit and then report their findings to the University.
An officer from CUPD said that Monday’s event may be rescheduled. In addition, the University is working with the Student Assembly to distribute a survey to students to determine when to host future events to ensure better attendance.
A lack of awareness about the event and the overlap of the two meetings likely contributed to the lack of attendees at the event in Collegetown, Hou said.
“Had people at the working group meeting known about it, I’m sure they would have attended,” she said.
Hou noted that with so many different groups trying to accomplish the same goals surrounding issues of sexual assault prevention, communication issues are bound to occur. Still, she said increased collaboration among various bodies — students, administrators, police and city officials — is crucial moving forward.
“Logistically, people aren’t connecting, and that’s a primary obstacle for collaboration,” she said. “They’re not communicating as well as they should be.”
Correction: Due to an editing error, a previous version of this story contained several errors. It incorrectly stated the name of one of the organizations that helped planned the canceled meeting. It was the Cornell Collegetown Student Council, not the Collegetown Neighborhood Council. Additionally, the story incorrectly referred to the meeting as a CCSC event, when multiple organizations helped plan it. The story also incorrectly attributed a quote to Denise Thompson, administrative assistant for the Office of Fraternities, Sororities and Independent Living, that was in fact said by a CUPD officer.