Sports Editor: Shailyn Bacchiocchi
Author’s Note to Students:
It’s hard to grasp the right words to describe the amount of emotion I am experiencing while writing this letter.
We will not be writing an article describing the actual incident in great detail. We normally do on safety issues, but we value the emotions of our peers and do not think it is in the best interest of anyone who knew Frank Petillo Jr. to describe the tragic event in detail.
Out of respect for the family, friends, classmates, and acquaintances of Frank, we will be releasing a memorial article later this week to remember Frank and emphasize the light he brought to the people who knew him.
We will also be releasing a memorial article on the tragic passing of MFA student Alexandra Landry.
There will be a Candlelight Vigil on Monday, April 10th, at 8 PM in front of the Claire T. Carney Library for both students.
If anyone would like to share memories of Frank that you would like included in the memorial article, please reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Since this is a time-sensitive issue, we have decided to write this letter as we feel, as students, that we deserve more. I have said many, many times before: students deserve to feel safe. We should not feel like we will wake up every day to an empty classroom seat, a memorial email, or walk around wondering if we’ll make it long enough to graduate.
The tragic incident of Frank’s passing should not be taken lightly by the administration, but what I stress the most is that students should take time to heal. It is not easy losing someone in your community, whether you knew him or not.
On the same note, it can feel overwhelming when things like this happen. It can feel like things are out of your control. It is OK to feel this way and expected when tragedies like this occur.
There are many resources on campus but also know that the entirety of The Torch’s staff is supportive and empathetic to those who need someone. We are not trained professionals, but we are students – we will go to the ends of the earth to help the student body.
That is why, though it is tough, we believe articles/letters like this are important. We are a strong student body, and we all deserve more. Please do not hesitate to reach out.
Again, to anyone that knew Frank, we are here to support you. This is a tragedy that no one should ever have to face.
We are here, always.
On that note, the letter below is not only addressed to Mark Fuller, but the entirety of the UMass Dartmouth administration. We, along with the rest of the student body, are calling for a change. The change needs to start now.
Shailyn Bacchiocchi and The Torch staff.
A transcription of the letter to the chancellor follows below:
Dear Chancellor Mark Fuller, UMass Dartmouth Administration, and UMass Dartmouth Community Members,
Normally, I would jump on the opportunity to write an article about incidents that happened on campus. Though the issues were always serious, I never hesitated to reach out to people to gather their thoughts. This is different.
This is different because it no longer feels like a call for change. It feels like a desperate plea. I hate to admit that I feel hesitant touching on a safety issue on this campus because much of my work revolves around encouraging people to speak out.
So, it goes without saying that I can no longer give the benefit of the doubt that the school will eventually fix or take accountability for safety issues on campus.
A walk around campus, future plans, and emails are not enough.
A student died. That should be enough said. Unfortunately, I don’t think it will be enough.
Therefore, I will describe some of the problems in detail.
- There needs to be more crosswalks. Ring Road is a giant circle that makes it hard for students to see around the corner. The crosswalks not only need to be more frequent but accompanied by giant, reflective signs that clearly indicate there is one there.
- There needs to be speed bumps. I know that the administration is going to express that students should not speed, but what are they doing to enforce that? Clearly, not enough. The number of students complaining they have almost been hit by a car on campus is astounding. Furthermore, on the safety walk, vehicles were having to be continuously slowed down by the officers accompanying us. So, unless you plan to have officers standing in the middle of the street every day, slowing cars down, speed bumps, and more speed limit signs need to be implemented. Not in the future, not pending, now.
- Same with the sidewalks. It is not enough to be “working on it” anymore. It is unacceptable to express that there is not enough money. Massachusetts invested $73M to upgrade LARTS (which has not even started yet). Find means to install sidewalks.
It should not take articles, emails, forums, and posts to push administration to address issues.
Recognize students’ fears.
Empathize with our frustrations, not just with our grief.
Immediately when this tragedy occurred, our website blew up with searches of people seeking explanations and reports of the incident.
It should be very telling that students and members of the UMass Dartmouth community seek answers through a student-run paper rather than the administration meant to be protecting them.
There is so much more to say, but I find myself exhausted from continuously repeating the same safety issues over and over and over again.
I will leave this letter with a final note.
Students are tired. They’re exhausted. They’re aggravated. They’re upset. They’re scared. They’re angry. They’re grieving.
Stop only advising the students how to be safer and start providing them with safety. There are preventable measures.
We are done waiting.
This has been not only a “difficult week for the Corsair community,” Chancellor Fuller, but a difficult semester. A difficult school year. A difficult college experience.
Let’s start making it easier for students to exist on this campus.
The Torch Team
Shailyn Bacchiocchi – Sports Editor
Roxanne Hepburn – Editor-in-Chief
Carolyn Doremus – Managing Editor
Kamryn Kobel – Arts & Entertainment Editor
Julian Cassady – Business Manager
Andrew Murphy – Social Media Manager
Sydney Cayer – Staff Writer
Colton Almeida – Staff Writer
Sakara De Gil-Balija – Staff Writer
Ella Gerardi – Volunteer Writer
Jesse Magnifico – Volunteer Writer
Information about counseling services via Chancellor Mark Fuller’s email:
“We are providing additional hours at the Counseling Center tomorrow (Friday) until 7 p.m. Additionally, the after-hours Support Help Line can be reached at 508.910.4357. You may request an appointment on weekdays (regular hours Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.) by calling 508-999-8648, and you can learn about resources that assist with wellness and academic success at www.umassd.edu/counseling. The Center for Religious and Spiritual Life has campus ministers from several faith traditions who provide confidential pastoral counseling and can be reached at 508.999.8872.
Faculty and staff needing support are encouraged to call Human Resources at 508.999.8060 and take advantage of the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) for free counseling. EAP benefits may be accessed by calling 844.393.4983 or visiting their website and entering our company ID: UMASS to speak to a counseling professional.