CUNY A!ert issued for suspicious package near campus

Credit: @chrisramsay.feedback via Twenty20

A lone package in New York City means something very different in today’s post 9/11 landscape. This notion was emphasized further when a rare CUNY Alert emergency notification for the CUNY School of Professional Studies was issued.

 A suspicious package was left on West 31st Street between 6th and 7th Avenues on the morning of Wednesday, October 9. It alarmed school authorities enough to block off the main campus entrance declaring, “All persons must stay away from the 119 W 31 Street entrance of the school”. Access was granted only at 116 West 32nd Street via the 10th floor. Just seven minutes later, the situation was resolved due to clearance by the New York Police Department. SPS staff didn’t start receiving alerts about the package until around 10 am, according to Marissa Armanios, manager of marketing and digital communications. “Thankfully, my commute wasn’t affected at all since I usually get to work around 7 am” Marissa said in answer to the question of whether her commute was affected by the blockade. When asked about her feelings on what happened, Marissa stated, “I honestly didn’t think much of it. I knew that if we were in serious danger then public safety would have informed us of the next steps.”

An anonymous source explained that the package contained a pressure cooker. In an attempt to follow up with Public Safety to confirm this information, Public Safety Office Sgt. Brian Smith explained that, per SPS policy, public safety officers would not be able to comment, stating that “all questions have to be approved by the VP of Finance, Washington Hernandez, or the Public Safety Director” in order to have an on-the-record conversation.

While the full story surrounding the security issue is still unknown, this short-lived scare underscores the importance of campus security and of the campus security report. The Campus Security Annual Report was released for 2019 and contains all matters that pertain to SPS campus security. According to the Office of Public Safety’s page on the official SPS website, the office is required by law to publish the report and make it publicly available. Per the website, “The CUNY School of Professional Studies can comply with the law by using a web site instead of paper documents so long as the exact web address where the report can be accessed is sent to all required recipients; something that is done every September”.

Emails were sent to students in September of 2017 and 2018, but no email or other notification had yet been sent out to students regarding this year’s security report. After speaking with Washington Hernandez, the associate dean of administration and finance, he has assured me that students would be notified by this week. True to his word, Mr. Hernandez made sure that the email notifying the student body of the report was sent this past Tuesday, October 16.

On review of the report, however, it was a relief to read that crime on the SPS campus is all but non-existent. When considering its location in the heart of Midtown Manhattan, this is a welcoming revelation.

To read the report in its entirety, visit https://sps.cuny.edu/about/directory/office-public-safety/campus-security-annual-report 

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