Hofstra Students Hear of Campus Gang Rape Via TV, Not School

Students afraid, frustrated school didn't tell them first

By Greg Cergol
|  Wednesday, Sep 16, 2009  |  Updated 6:30 PM EDT
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Hofstra Students Hear About Gang Rape From TV, Not School

NBCNewYork

Many students are angry they heard the news on TV and the Internet first.

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Hofstra Students Hear About Gang Rape From TV, Not School

Many students are angry they heard the news on TV and the Internet first.
More Photos and Videos

"What are you guys doing here?"
 
Hofstra University student Kira McCabe's question to a WNBC news crew Tuesday seemed unusual, since her campus was buzzing with media covering an alleged gang rape in a dorm bathroom.

  But McCabe -- a commuter student -- had heard nothing about it until we told her.
 
She wasn't alone. A number of students say they learned of Sunday's alleged assault by five men on an 18-year-old Hofstra student not from the school, but from other sources.
 
That lack of information has added frustration to students' lingering fear.
 
"I pay $45,000 a year to go here," said Kimberly Ciano, a junior from Bay Shore. "And the fact they didn't contact us directly is upsetting."
 
Hofstra's Vice President for University Relations, Melissa Connolly, says the Hofstra did post information about the alleged rape on a university Web site Monday -- more than 24 hours after it happened.
 
But Connolly now acknowledges most students never saw that posting.
 
Still, Connolly defends the university's decision not to send students e-mail alerts immediately after the incident; at the time, one of the alleged rapists was still at large.
 
"It was determined there was no imminent threat on campus," Connolly said. "And because police needed to do their work, we waited until the information was clear to put forward."
 
"That makes no sense," said Hofstra senior Wilhelminia Hypolite of Hempstead. "Someone else could have gotten raped, too."
 
Connolly calls the incident a "learning experience" for the university.  Many students voiced their frustrations directly to university officials at meetings on campus Tuesday night. And while Connolly says Hofstra's notification procedures are under review, she made no promises changes would be coming.
 
The four alleged rapists remain in custody, with two due to appear in Nassau court tomorrow. A fifth suspect is still being sought. University officials say police know who the suspect is but have yet to find him.

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