Students still feel safe after YSU fraternity shooting

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After a fatal shooting last Sunday at nearby Youngstown State University, Allegheny campus security justified the Greek community’s continued comfort in safety measures.

The incident that resulted in the death of one individual and the injury of 11 others occurred at an off-campus fraternity house of several Omega Psi Phi members. After being escorted out of the fraternity party, the two suspects, who are not students of the university, began firing into the house.

Many Allegheny students feel secure even with the aftermath of the shooting. Though it was close to home, some believe the chances of something like this happening in Meadville are slim—but not impossible.

“I have always felt safe on Allegheny’s campus,” said senior Dan Donahoe, former president of Delta Tau Delta. “Unfortunately, regardless of how strict or tight security is, an incident like this can happen anywhere.”

According to sophomore Youngstown student Kevin Snyder, he is not surprised that such an event took place at his university.

“I live in the ghetto, what do you think?” said Snyder. “I feel safe on campus, [where] there has always been a strong police presence on campus. But a few blocks off campus in either direction, no. I have had friends that have been mugged and robbed just a few minutes off of campus.”

Such events are rare, if not existent, at Allegheny. Jeffrey Schneider, director of security at Allegheny College, stated that there has never been a shooting on campus. Weapons are not permitted on campus, and according to Schneider, the school has never confiscated anything larger than a knife.

“We check everyone in at the front door of the house and will not permit them to enter if they have alcohol or any such possession that may cause problems,” said Andrew Jockers, former Phi Kappa Psi president. “Were we to find out someone had a gun or a knife or anything of that nature at one of our parties, we would contact campus security as well as the police and then quietly and calmly clear the event.”

Even Allegheny’s fraternity houses are prepared for danger. Many houses assign brothers to act as security during dance parties, and are always on the lookout for drunken or suspicious behavior. Though no house really has a specific plan for a shooting incident, security is still a top priority.

If there were to be a shooting or other behavioral disturbance, Schneider said, Allegheny would use the E2 alert system, which sends text messages and e-mails to notify students of such emergency situations.

“Then we work with the local agency – state police, emergency responders – quartering off whatever area is involved, setting up command posts,” Schneider added. “The big thing with an event like that is if it does occur on campus you would have to contain it and keep people away, and go from there. Call in the SWAT team – the closest would be in Erie.”

Dan Donahoe also expanded on what actions might be taken if a scenario like this actually took place.

“I think the immediate steps of action we would take would be to put the house on lockdown, warn all brothers to go to their rooms and stay there until further notice,” he said. “Campus security and the Meadville Police Department would be notified instantaneously, as would Gretchen Symons, the campus fraternity advisor, who would I am sure notify other school officials such as Joe DiChristina and President Mullen.”

Most of the problems Allegheny’s fraternities deal with are on a much smaller scale, said junior Cory Muscara, president of the Interfraternity Council. Such a tragedy would first be handled by security and police, but it would ultimately arrive back to the IFC.

“If [a fraternity] had done something to provoke it, the national council would be contacted and most likely they would be removed from campus,” said Muscara. “Greek life organizations are very strict like that. If you mess up as a fraternity, the higher authority will come after you.”

Leonel Leon, ’12, president of Sigma Alpha Epsilon, recognized that most people who get hurt at parties usually injure themselves.

“You just get a couple drunk people who don’t know how to control themselves,” he said. “Even then it never really goes beyond taunting and breaking something.”

With that attitude, the Greek community remained confident after the Youngstown shooting.

“I think myself and the Greek life community and everybody else at Allegheny College can go to bed with a safe and secure feeling every night,” Muscara said.

Even Snyder, who was surprised that Youngstown University responded at all since it was not an on-campus dispute, thought they did everything they could have done in response to the shooting.

“They can’t prevent people who are dumb enough to do things like this from doing that, no matter what policies they have,” he said. “What they can do is put restrictions on non-legitimate frat houses, but that still doesn’t prevent some asshole from lighting the place up with a gun.”

Kevin Snyder is Kristy Snyder’s brother.