Residential Life Area Coordinator, Rhya Harris experienced disorderly conduct when the guest of a Redwood resident attempted to kiss her on Friday, March 1 at 3 am. The guest, according to University Administrators, was under the influence of alcohol.
The Coordinator did not know the individual, nor were the actions reciprocated in any way, and upon her outrage, the guest retreated back to the lobby and did not bother her again.
According to Associate Director of Residential Life Mark Holfelder, Harris notified him of the incident “as soon as possible.” The two then screened security cameras in the lobby of Redwood for a positive identification on the perpetrator.
Although a positive identification has been made, it is unclear as to who actually identified the perpetrator. “So we were very prudent in trying to make sure we knew who it was. Once we determined who it was we contacted the police, they came out, between us and the police we kind of figured out who it was. We dealt with the situation,” Holfelder said. “We dealt with the resident whose guest it was and with the guest, within our protocol.”
Harris was available for interview but declined to comment directly.
Residential Life indicated this was something they can handle internally, however, the following Thursday, March 8, they officially notified the Monmouth University Police Department (MUPD).
MUPD was notified of the event at the same time as Redwood residents. The Redwood residents were notified via e-mail from Harris, with approval from Holfelder, to describe what happened as “a recent incident” and went on to explain proper University procedure for having visitors enter the dorm.
On Friday March 8, Vice President Patricia Swannack sent an e-mail to all residential students making them aware of some details of the incident, describing it as “isolated” and then reiterating campus policy with regards to guests in the dorms.
“A lot of times when a situation happens a student has a right to press charges criminally and they choose not to,” said Holfelder. “Then that turns it over to us and we enact our protocols whether it is suspended visitations privileges, if we have to contact people, if we have to move people out temporarily, there is a myriad of things that can happen. It‘s really situation specific.”
Despite the incident there will be no tightening on the other resident’s guest visiting policy. “I think this is an extremely safe campus, and even in my email I want people to be reminded that we do have an escort service. And I think this is really an opportunity to remind folks that we have these services for the campus to use,” said Swannack.
While Vice President Swannack, MUPD, and Residential Life all made themselves available to be interviewed. Vice President and General Counsel Grey Dimenna refused to share the police report with reporters because he felt, “Private information like this is not meant or collected with the intention of being public.”
Many Redwood residents were surprised about the incident when they heard about via e-mail from the area coordinator. “I’m shocked that something like that would happen. It seems so out of line and I can’t believe someone would actually try and do that to someone who is in such a place of power,” says Tess Blumetti, a sophomore resident of Redwood.
Captain of Police Dean Volpe said its MUPD’s job to answer calls and look out for the University. “In the end we are here for the students and to make them feel safe and comfortable,” says Volpe.
Senior Pinewood Resident Assistant Alissa Catalano believes the whole incident could have been avoided if the proper guest procedure was followed.
“Being an RA is not an easy job but we do our best to make sure that our residents and building are safe, however in order to do so, we need the help of our residents,” said Catalano. “I can’t even count the number of times I am sitting desk duty and some residents just try to sneak guests passed us because they feel that signing in guests is such a hassle. If they just took five minutes out of their night to do what they are supposed to do incidents like this can be avoided.”
PHOTO COURTESY of Maggie Zelinka