President Lemons Issues Important Update on Troubling Social Media Posts

Photo of Lehman College Music Building
Photo of Lehman College Music Building

Earlier this week, I reported that statements threatening the College were posted on a social media site not affiliated with the College, through an account on that site with a current Lehman student’s name and image. As soon as we learned of the posting, we alerted the New York City Police Department’s 52nd Precinct and subsequently the student was suspended. Last Friday, an additional threat was made against the College via the same social media account that had been used previously to send the threat. We again alerted the 52nd Precinct and CUNY’s Office of Campus Safety.

Last night we learned that the student was arrested and is now being charged.

In keeping with our commitment to maintain a campus safe for students, faculty, staff and visitors, we continue to take this threat very seriously. We will continue to work closely with the NYPD during its investigation.

There are a number of important elements to our response when a situation like this arises. Maintaining the safety of the campus community comes first, and we strive to do that in a way that remains true to our values, particularly those of fairness and truth-telling. Truth-telling doesn’t mean broadcasting every new bit of information; doing so could easily compromise our commitment to fairness or lead to unwarranted anxiety or worse. When a threat is made, we need to verify as quickly as possible if it is credible, and at the same time try to be sure that an innocent person is not falsely accused. When we have information the entire campus community needs to have, we send it out expeditiously via a variety of platforms. In our current situation, I am confident that we have met these important standards. The campus has at no time been at risk, and we, along with the NYPD, have also done everything we can to verify information and protect individual rights. Most of the campus response happens out of sight, but you can be assured that our campus security response team has been in constant conversation, and has been meeting frequently to assess new information, weigh responses and advise me. That team represents the key areas of the campus, encompassing students, staff, and faculty.

Here is what you can expect on Monday, barring any new developments. As a precautionary measure, Public Safety officers will be stationed at all gates. Our Public Safety force will be supplemented temporarily by CUNY’s Office of Campus Safety. This will enable us to increase the number of campus patrols that are conducted each day. One of the benefits of being a part of the CUNY system is that at times like these we can rapidly tap additional resources.

Despite the measures our Public Safety Department will take to ensure our safety, the most effective deterrent to an on-campus incident is each of us. We’re all familiar with the NY subway system announcement, “If you see something, say something.” That simple idea is our best protection. Our Public Safety Department urges anyone on campus who sees suspicious activity to contact their office at 718-960-7777. People working late on campus should alert Public Safety so that officers will make additional rounds in those work areas. As I mentioned in my email this past Thursday, despite the excellent record of safety and the ongoing training and preparation of our Campus Security Department, we are re-doubling our efforts to ensure the safety of the campus. We are carrying out a systematic review and enlisting outside experts to determine if there are other steps we can take to maintain a campus that is both open and more secure.

This incident has been reported in the Daily News, and we expect that other news media will make inquiries and possibly visit the campus. If you are approached by a representative of the news media, please refer them to our Media Relations team, Karen Crowe (karen.crowe@lehman.cuny.edu) or Colleen Lutolf (colleen.lutolf@lehman.cuny.edu).

Although we are taking all necessary measures to ensure our community’s safety, I know this is a stressful situation.  Counseling services for students are available through our Counseling Center Monday through Saturday. I urge anyone who needs support during this period to take advantage of this service. Visit https://tmg-web.lehman.edu/counseling-center/ for hours and more information. Employees have access to confidential counseling through the Employee Assistance Program. Please contact Human Resources at 718-960-8181 for more information.

I will send updates on this situation as we receive more news. Please be sure that you are registered with CUNYAlert which will text, phone and email you in the event of an emergency. We would use this system in case of any emergency on campus.

Together we will get through this situation. I am grateful, as always, for your commitment to our College and the ideals we strive to live by each day.

Daniel Lemons
President