Hannah Rosenberg/Sun File Photo

Mary Donlon Hall was one of the buildings that experienced arson incidents.

October 17, 2023

North Campus Residents Meet Arson Incidents With Indifference

Print More

When Steven Kim ’27 hears the fire alarms in his dorm, Mary Donlon Hall, he is unfazed despite a series of recent arson incidents on North Campus.

“Honestly, [the arson incidents don’t] really impact how I feel about my safety,” Kim said. “From what I’ve heard, it’s just someone putting a lighter to a wall. I don’t think the building’s going to burn down.” 

The Cornell University Police Department announced a series of arson incidents on North Campus in both Ganędagǫ: and Mary Donlon Hall in Crime Alert emails to the student body on Sept. 13, 19 and 24. Each email has stated that no suspect has been identified, and that investigation into the incidents is ongoing. 

In a statement to The Sun, David Honan, associate vice president for public safety, urged students not to participate in pranks involving fire and to report incidents of arson. 

“As I stated in the weekly message, pranks involving fire are not safe and can lead to serious injuries or death,” Honan said. “Arson prevention and reporting are crucial for everyone’s safety.”

Despite these incidents, however, students have said they are unconcerned. Nicole Yan ’27, another Donlon resident, said she believed the incidents to be students looking for attention.

“I don’t feel anything about it because people are just burning their name on the wall because they think it’s funny,” Yan said. “I don’t really feel much about it.”

This is not the first time CUPD has reported cases of arson in the dorms. During the 2021-22 school year, a series of arson incidents in Ganędagǫ: Hall resulted in security cameras being placed in the common areas and CUPD officers patrolling the hallways. 

Sentiments towards Cornell’s handling of the situation were mixed. Kim expressed support for Cornell’s response, because the administration sent an email out to the entire community. He also stated that his floor had a meeting on Thursday, Oct. 5 to discuss the incidents and safety protocols. 

However, Yan disagreed, saying calling the police for such a minor incident was an overreaction.

“I think it’s an overreaction to call the police, but Cornell actually needs to do something about the people,” Yan said. “I just think they should actually do something about it that’s not sending an email generally threatening kids. But calling the police isn’t exactly going to help that.” 

Both students said they have had floor meetings with their respective resident advisors as a response to the arson incidents. 

Investigations into these incidents are ongoing. Anyone with information can call (607) 255-1111 or make an anonymous report via the Silent Witness system.

Carly Hermann ’27 is a Sun contributor and can be reached at [email protected].