Daemen Community Responds to Canavan Hall Burglary

By Calvin Dimmig, News Editor

On Feb. 24, at 7:31 a.m., students on the Daemen University main campus received a campus safety alert regarding a suspicious person breaking into Canavan Hall, the freshman dormitory.

On the evening of Feb. 23, students held the door for a man parked in a white U-haul truck in front of Schenck Hall, only a block away from Canavan Hall. The man was seen entering and exiting the building with the student.

Later in the evening, the perpetrator returned to Canavan Hall and was let into the building by a different student. After leaving Canavan with a variety of items, the man returned to his U-haul pick-up and exited the campus via Main St. 

How could this have happened in broad daylight?

Students are so focused on going to class and rushing back to campus that sometimes they’ll let anyone pass through the door.

Also, there’s a lot of foot traffic outside Canavan Hall throughout the school day. There are two entrances/exits to Canavan–one in the front facing the main campus buildings and another in the back facing the alumni house. 

A Daemen student opens the main door to Canavan Hall, the site of a recent burglary. Taken March 6 by Calvin Dimmig.

The front door sees the most foot traffic, as the door leads directly to campus in fewer steps than the back-facing entrance. 

If the perpetrator were to enter Canavan around a time period in between classes, they could easily have slipped in and out of the hall without a second glance.

The perpetrator is described as a black male standing at five feet ten inches or five feet eleven inches tall, no older than 24 years old, wearing black clothes, and sporting a low-cut fade haircut.

After the incident, Daemen University has taken steps toward maintaining safety practices on campus. 

“We remind community members that although Daemen is a very welcoming campus, we cannot let people into secure doors if they do not have access,” said the campus safety alert.

In their campus safety alert, Daemen reminded their students to be on full alert. They recommend traveling with a friend or trustworthy person, keeping distance from strangers, and NOT (their emphasis) to hold doors for unrecognizable people. 

I spoke with Mr. Mead-Colegrove before regarding Daemen’s compliance with the Clery Act and another altercation that occurred on campus the previous semester.

The Clery Act was enacted in 1990 requiring all higher education institutions participating in federal financial aid programs to disclose campus crime statistics and security information.

Daemen University produces an Annual Security and Fire Safety Report (ASR) and distributes it to the campus community around Oct 1.

The university also maintains a daily log of all reported crimes, from nabbing backpacks to breaking and entering, at the Yurtchuk Student Center Information Desk. This daily log is available to Daemen students on request.

According to Daemen’s 2022 ASR, the university experienced a burglary on both its on-campus property and on-campus student housing facilities in 2021, the year after the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Two counts of robbery were committed on non-campus property in 2021. In 2020, there were two cases of burglary on non-campus property.

The main difference between burglary and robbery is the action of taking property. Burglary involves entering a home or another building illegally, whereas robbery involves taking property directly from another using threats or violence.

In the case of Feb. 23, the burglary would be added to the 2024 ASR released around Oct. 1.

Campus Safety is on full alert after the break-in. In the student-wide campus alert, Daemen reminds their students that Campus Safety is available for walking escorts around campus.

Douglas Smith, an experienced law enforcement officer and ex-trainer/adviser with the Afghan National Police, is currently the Director of Campus Safety. He has yet to issue a public comment to the Daemen community regarding the incident.

Some Damen students and previous residents of Canavan Hall commented on the break-in, describing their fear for their safety in various senses.

“I have no clue how he got in,” one Daemen student said, “Canavan has two doors to swipe into, meaning he got past the first and the second one.”

Freshman PA major Sara Siegmann commented on the break-in having said, “How can I phrase this in the nicest way possible? Sometimes students don’t think, and they let people in without realizing it.”

Siegmann is a resident of Canavan Hall and is in her second semester at Daemen University.

Senior Illustration major Emilee Kassay said, “I think it’s crazy that any place can be considered safe yet anything can still happen to that place at any time. I believe Daemen is a generally safe campus, but unfortunately, negative events do occur.”

Kassay is also pursuing a master’s degree in Leadership & Innovation at Daemen. 

“The best we can all do as students, staff, and faculty is be prepared and take caution when you see someone you’re not familiar with. If something doesn’t feel right, rely on your intuition,” continued Kassay.

Students remain worried about their well-being, but some students like Kassay keep a realistic perspective on the case at hand.

The Amherst Police continue to investigate the case.

If you are a Daemen Student and you notice any odd or suspicious behavior on Campus, call the Campus Safety desk at 716-839-7233. 

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