Student safety policies under scrutiny after attempted stabbing at St. John Fisher University


PITTSFORD, N.Y. – After a student tried to stab a staffer at St. John Fisher University on Wednesday night, policies on student safety are under the microscope.

The suspect, 19-year-old freshman Shalom Mathews is in the Monroe County Jail on $30,000 bail.

According to a St. John Fisher University representative, “It’s an all hazards approach to any kind of critical incident. Fight when ya know, it’s your last resort, and that’s what the staffer did.”

According to court papers, Mathews threatened a St. John Fisher staff member with a knife with the intent to tie her up and sexually abuse her.

The situation forced the university into lockdown.

According to St. John Fisher University Vice President of Student Affairs Matha Thornton, more can always be done to amend policy and make students safer.

“I think there are always lessons to learn. I think today, we are so thankful for our partnership with local law enforcement. We are very proud of our safety and security office. All of the training and the protocols we did have in place for this to resolve quickly, but of course we will always debrief. We can always learn from a situation like this,” Thornton said.

Whether it’s “Avoid, Deny, Fight” or “Run, Hide, Defend,” college campuses like St. John Fisher have policies in place to protect students.

According to St. John Fisher’s Student Handbook, “Weapons of any kind are prohibited from being on campus.” Which doesn’t deviate much from other local university policies.

Monroe Community College has a similar policy in place.

MCC’s Student Handbook reads a student violates policy behavior “By possession of firearms, explosives, chemicals, or other dangerous weapons.”

What remains unclear is what policies allow students to defend themselves in situations where an intruder enters a classroom.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics in 2020, forcible sex offenses accounted for 44 percent of on-campus crimes while 32% were attributed to burglaries.

Related Articles:

Fisher student in lockdown texts partner ‘If anything happens I love you’

MCSO on knife-wielding suspect who put St. John Fisher in lockdown: ‘This person’s intent was violence’

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