(Credit: Jud Guitteau)
On the afternoon of Wednesday, September 7, a 15-year-old was shot and killed at McLaughlin Park in downtown Brooklyn across the block from a City Tech building. During the shooting and in the days after it, City Tech administration sent no alerts – no text messages, no emails, no bulletins – to the college community, according to several PSC members who work at the college.
One member, who works in the Howard Building, said she learned of the shooting when she left work that day and saw news crews and yellow police tape everywhere. She never received information from the administration, on the day of the incident or in the days following.
In fact, Carole Harris, the PSC City Tech chapter chair and associate professor of English, didn’t even hear about the McLaughlin Park shooting until late October when Clarion asked her about it.
“I did not receive any type of communication or alert,” Harris told Clarion. “To learn only now about the killing of a teenager near City Tech feels shocking to me,” said Harris, who is signed up to receive CUNY Alert through CUNY’s emergency notification system.
Violence around campus is not the only issue on members’ minds. There are concerns about vandalism, visitors wandering buildings without checking in with security, the limited number of entrances to the college’s buildings, and general safety when working at night.
NO EVENINGS, PLEASE
“I stopped requesting evening classes because I found the Namm building so creepy after hours when it’s very empty,” Harris said. “In those evening hours, I would often ask a student to accompany me back to my office after class because I did not want to be there, even for a few minutes to gather my things, alone.”
Harris said that over the years, members have asked the City Tech administration what the proper protocol should be in the case of an active shooter. There hasn’t been much follow-through, she said.
Clarion asked City Tech administration whether any communication was issued on some of the recent public safety incidents, what the administration defines as public safety and what the proper protocol is to receive a public safety alert.
“We are acutely aware of the recent troubling incidents in downtown Brooklyn, including the tragic loss of a high school student,” said City Tech Vice President of Administration and Finance Miguel Cairol in response to Clarion’s inquiry. “The safety of students, faculty and staff is a crucial priority, and we maintain consistent communication with the local police precinct, who advise immediately should there be any conceivable risk to our community.”
In the college’s response to Clarion, there was no protocol included nor did the administration indicate that it issued any type of communication to the City Tech community regarding the September 7 fatal shooting.
The procedures outlined in the City Tech Department of Public Safety 2022 Annual Security Report that public spaces that are not directly “contiguous” or “immediately adjacent” to the campus may not require “timely warnings.”
McLaughlin Park, where the September 7 killing occurred, is across the street from the City Tech Academic building; yet, it is not considered “contiguous to the campus.” In contrast to City Tech, when an incident involving shots fired occurred about a month later on October 4 near the New York University Tandon School of Engineering in downtown Brooklyn, NYU quickly alerted its campus community. The shooting was less than a block away from the engineering school and a few blocks away from City Tech. PSC members expressed dismay that NYU was quick to act on a similar incident close to its campus while City Tech did not.
NYU Campus Safety’s Twitter account issued alerts to the community on October 4 from 10:47 am until 12:18 pm, until the police advised there was no “further threat.” According to the Twitter account, the NYU administration also sent out safety alerts by text message.
PSC members at City Tech are also worried about what they believe are a limited number of security entrances for the main City Tech buildings, where most classrooms and offices are located. There used to be several entrances to access the college’s main buildings – Pearl, Namm, Namm Hall and the library – now, there is only one, according to Cynthia Bink, City Tech’s director of counseling and a PSC delegate.
“The number of entrances that are closed make accessing the college cumbersome. It also sends a message that the campus is not yet fully open. Students should be able to enter all the buildings using multiple entrances,” Bink said. More public safety personnel would be needed.
Cairol, from the City Tech administration, did say the college has secured approval from the CUNY Board of Trustees to supplement public safety personnel with an unarmed security guard service in order to ensure safety coverage across campus.
Published: November 17, 2022
Last Modified: November 30, 2022