NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ—A new large-scale development in the Hub City is off to a dangerous start, thanks to a student who was able to climb on top of one of the new buildings recently erected on College Avenue.
The scene of the incident was the former home of the university's beloved "grease trucks," which were kicked out to make way for the massive 443-bed dormitory.
According to multiple sources, the inebriated student climbed up the decorative wooden panels that make up some of the building's facade before falling at about 1:47am on September 9.
The student lives in the brand-new dormitory at College Avenue and Hamilton Street, dubbed "The Yard at College Ave.," and was hospitalized after suffering serious injuries in the 20-foot fall.
"We understand that a student was involved in a fall at TheYard early Sunday Morning and the RUPD responded," said Chris Paladino, the President of New Brunswick Development Corporation (DEVCO), the private company that partnered with Rutgers to build the 14-story dorm.
The student did not fall from the highrise, but rather a smaller structure still under construction in the center of the courtyard, where a Starbucks Coffee shop is expected to open later this fall.
"The matter is under review by both the University and RUPD, said Paladino, declining to answer our question about whether the design of the building will be changed to prevent it from being climbed.
For their part, Rutgers has tried to keep this incident secret until journalists started asking about it, with at least two of its spokespersons claiming not to know about the incident a few days later on September 12.
The spokespersons then promised to get back to this reporter with answers, but never came through. They did repond to another journalist from the student newspaper who was likely asking similar questions.
Meanwhile, the Daily Targum's Avalon Zoppo obtained an email sent to all of the school's community service officers advising them to watch out for people climbing the building.
"This building is constructed in a manner that would easily allow, and may invite, some individuals to climb on top of it," read the email, as quoted in Zoppo's September 12 article.
Like the school's tight-lipped media relations staff, RUPD's Chief Kenneth Cop did not respond to inquiries about the incident.
It's not clear if anyone is being charged with a crime in this case, and the incident was curiously omitted from the RUPD's online "Daily Crime and Fire Safety Log" as of September 12, the last day that the log was updated.
We previously exposed at least one major crime being omitted from the RUPD crime log, along with the university's failure to keep to the crime alert policy it promised to follow in March 2014.
New Brunswick Today has filed an Open Public Records Act (OPRA) request seeking copies of all police incident reports from the incident.
But, if the university treats it in the same manner it handled the incident where a staff member chased a student and wrapped his arm around the young man's neck, the school will deny the OPRA request seeking the reports.
In that case, the school claimed that the report was a "criminal investigatory record" exempt from disclosure under the law, citing among other precedents, the controversial ruling currently under appeal in the case of North Jersey Media Group, Inc. v. Township of Lyndhurst.
Charlie is the founder and editor of New Brunswick Today, and the winner of the Awbrey Award for Community-Oriented Local Journalism. He is a proud Rutgers University journalism graduate and a community organizer, and was an independent candidate for Mayor of New Brunswick in 2018.