Students respond to report of assault on campus with temporary escort program



Caroline Foley

**CORRECTION: In this week’s issue, we reported in a photograph caption on page 3 that the University painted over the message “You are never alone” in the SEPTA Tunnel. The message was painted over by Septa, as that is their property.



Last Thursday, a black female student on her way through the SEPTA tunnel found herself facing a group of white males yelling “Trump, Trump, Trump!” According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, the men raced towards her, and one knocked her on the ground, causing her to hit her head. 

In the wake of hate crimes and hate speech across the country, students of color have expressed discomfort and feelings of vulnerability after the presidential election.

“Over the past few days, I have been deeply disturbed by several reports of members of our community using our nation’s political process as a justification for behaviors and language aimed to intimidate or humiliate other people,” Rev. Peter M. Donohue, O.S.A, Ph.D., said in an email to the University community. “This type of behavior is not acceptable and will not be tolerated at Villanova.”

Multiple students have expressed fear and unwillingness to walk around campus alone. An anonymous sophomore recalled an incident in the Quad. While walking with her friends, a group of students yelled “Trump!” and the n-word.  

An anonymous senior and her roommates have purchased pepper spray in anticipation of a frightening encounter. “I definitely don’t feel safe anymore on campus, especially as a person with brown skin,” she said. 

In response, a group of concerned students have organized a temporary program called “Safe Walking,” which aims to provide a network of volunteer students available to accompany any University member while traveling across campus. “We note that the Villanova University Police Department does offer similar services.” Brendan Carchidi ’17 explained in an email, “However, recognizing the genuine concerns felt by some students in relation to VUPD, we consider it imperative that there be a civilian equivalent amongst students, faculty and staff.” 

The group of students hope to launch the program by the end of this week by creating a formal schedule for volunteers who will be “on call” on the dates and times they signed up. Those who request a volunteer to accompany them across campus will be given someone to.

Hailey Scimone, a sophomore nursing student, proudly signed up to assist any person who requested her accompaniment. The post-election results left her feeling helpless, but she realized the most productive way to cope was through action and ensuring students know there are allies on campus. 

DeVon Jackson, Assistant Director for Leadership Programming, sees the student-organization as a “manifestation of the Caritas.” “Safety is an entitlement for all Villanovans,” he said. “The fact that they can band together in a time of crisis shows the true measure of some of our students.”

Terry Nance, Ph.D., Chief Officer of Diversity, was inspired by the reactions of students.

“They had the organization savvy to put together a program so quickly,” she said. “There is fear on campus. You conquer fear by working together and facing down that fear.”

Father Donohue requested students, faculty and staff report incidents to Public Safety (610-519-4444), local police if off campus or using Ethics Point to anonymously file a complaint.