‘Targeted Act of Intimidation’ Prompts Campus Safety Alert

(Photo courtesy of Gettysburg College)

(Photo courtesy of Gettysburg College)

By Benjamin Pontz, Editor-in-Chief

Bill Lafferty said that a “targeted act of intimidation” led to Saturday evening’s campus safety alert, which was disseminated to the campus community via email shortly after 5:00 p.m. Lafferty, the Assistant Vice President of College Life and Executive Director of Public Safety, added that the warning came within the purview of the Clery Act, a 1990 law requiring colleges to give timely warning of certain incidents occurring within a college’s immediate vicinity that could pose an ongoing threat to public safety.

“Alerts are issued for Clery crimes that occur within our Clery geography that, after assessment, represent a serious or continuing threat,” Lafferty said. “Not all bias incidents are Clery crimes.”

The alert came after “religious and homophobic slurs and derogatory comments” were written on a white board in Paul Hall, a first-year residence facility on the college’s West Quad, sometime overnight Friday into Saturday. The alert called the incident “very troubling” and characterized it as “bias-motivated intimidation.”

According to college policy, murder and non-negligent manslaughter, sex offenses (rape, fondling, incest, and statutory rape), robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, arson, hate crimes, motor vehicle theft, domestic violence, dating violence, stalking, or arrests and referrals for liquor law, weapons law, and drug law violations can prompt a timely warning email.

Earlier this fall, Gettysburg College President Bob Iuliano sent a message to campus in which he denounced incidents in which Gettysburg College students allegedly used racial slurs towards other students and an alumnus. In that message, Iuliano said that College Life is “in the process of finalizing a sanctioning rubric that will bring greater clarity and consistency to the College’s response to bias incidents.”

College spokesperson Jamie Yates said that the goal is for that process to be complete by the end of the semester.

Director of Student Rights & Responsibilities Ron Wiafe, who oversees bias conduct response in College Life, presented to Student Senate earlier this month on potential updates to college policy.

The current incident remains under investigation.

News Editor Phoebe Doscher contributed to this report.

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Author: Benjamin Pontz

Benjamin Pontz '20 served as Editor-in-Chief of The Gettysburgian from 2018 until 2020, Managing News Editor from 2017 until 2018, News Editor in the spring of 2017, and Staff Writer during the fall of 2016. During his tenure, he wrote 232 articles. He led teams that won two first place Keystone Press Awards for ongoing news coverage (once of Bob Garthwait's resignation, and the other of Robert Spencer's visit to campus) and was part of the team that wrote a first-place trio of editorials in 2018. He also received recognition for a music review he wrote in 2019. A political science and public policy major with a music minor, he graduated in May of 2020 and will pursue a master's degree in public policy on a Fulbright Scholarship at the University of Manchester before enrolling in law school.

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