Devereux Hall fire damages student confidence more than property

[Photo of Devereux Hall by Tony Lee]

By Mark Belcher, News Editor, @markbelcherjr

ST. BONAVENTURE (Feb. 16) – Following two consecutive weekends of prank fire drills in Devereux Hall, St. Bonaventure University students were unprepared for a real and intentional fire Sunday morning.

At roughly 6:11, unidentified individuals rigged two microwaves to catch fire, triggering Bonaventure emergency procedures to kick in.

“Everything worked just the way it should have,” Ralph Aloia, university fire/life Safety-NYS security instructor, said.

He said smoke detectors sensed smoke within 180 seconds and 90 seconds later, signaled the fire.

Safety and Security Services called fire authorities, and they arrived 14 minutes later. Within two minutes of their arrival, resident assistant staff safely evacuated most students from the dormitory.

“When I woke up, I felt fine because my initial thought was, ‘Great, some drunk person burned popcorn again,’” junior marketing major Charlee Smith said. “When I found out the fire alarm set off because of a real fire, I felt a little startled. I remember my hallway smelt gross, so that made me snap into reality and walk a little faster.”

Smith eventually walked to the designated evacuation area in the Shay Hall lobby, but many students, including her, ignored the initial alarms.

“I woke up to the sound of someone pounding on my door,” Smith said. “When I woke up, I was so fed up with the fact that the fire drill was going off again, that I did not intend on getting up and going outside.”

Eventually, a phone call from her friend woke Smith up, but when she was finally safe, she did not truly feel it.

“I felt scared because I was so used to getting up for fake drills that I assumed the real fire drill was just another fake one set off by some drunk kid trying to cook,” Smith said. “I don’t think that I will feel safe in my building for a while.”

Despite the damage to student confidence, Vito Czyz, director of Safety and Security Services, said a host of groups are working towards swift justice.

“We have potentially 300 plus residents in Devereux Hall who were put in danger,” he said. “We are going to turn the heat up big time. This is going to get solved.”

Czyz said Safety and Security Services, the Cattaraugus County Sheriff’s Department and the New York State Office for Fire Prevention and Control are processing evidence, both physical and circumstantial.

“We are going to pursue this to the fullest,” he said. “The university has had enough of these events, and we are going to put an end to this.”

Perpetrators, which Czyz believes to be a small group of people, would face any applicable charges, including criminal offense, felony offense and expulsion from the university.

“I can’t imagine what was going through the individual’s heads who set this fire up,” Smith said. “I feel as if the campus is not as safe as I thought it had been in the past.”

Junior sociology major Tiffany Nunez said the situation made her want to escape to home for a weekend.

“It’s sad that this is what we have to deal with – people who have nothing better to do than play with fire,” she said. “It also makes me wish this school had more safety features like cameras in the lounges and better protocol when things like this happen.”

Although Czyz said he thought protocol was executed well, he did say campus safety features already planned, like more cameras around campus, will be completed this year.

“There were some good things that came out of this, however,” Czyz said. “The alarm system worked, there was full security, Allegany Fire and full RA cooperation and there was little damage to property.”

Aloia said it is better to look at the positive and find things to improve.

“We are evaluating microwaves on the campus,” he said. “We are looking at new microwaves that shut down if smoke is detected.”

Czyz said the university will never stop working to make the university safer, but he needs student help.

“We want anybody with information to come forward, both first hand or second,” he said. “We will exhaust every lead and every possibility.”

Although the investigation is still under way, Czyz said the university is communicating with authorities daily to wrap up the hunt.

“It’s tough to say, but I hope by the end of the week,” he said. “The sooner the better.”

Student allegedly assaulted at off-campus residence


ST. BONAVENTURE (Feb. 9) – A group of people allegedly assaulted St. Bonaventure University freshman Edward Caraccioli this past weekend, sending him to Olean General Hospital.

A news release from the Twin Tiers radio station, WVTT News Radio, reported the altercation at the intersection of Seventh and Union streets early Sunday morning.

A Bonaventure student close to Caraccioli, who wished to remain nameless, said multiple students randomly targeted Caraccioli at an off-campus house party. He said others who separated the crowd were also assaulted.

WVTT News Radio said police confirmed an ongoing investigation to the Olean Times Herald this morning.

Bonaventure officials are cooperating with police, but no arrests have been made at this time, the report added.

At press time, no contact could be made with Allegany police or Safety and Security Services. More information on the story is to come.

Any information on the incident should be referred to the Allegany Police Department at (716) 373-0873 or Safety and Security Services at (716) 375-2525.

Maddie Gionet contributed to the reporting of this story.

Thisness is more Bonaventure than students think

By Emily Steves, Staff Writer, @SeeEmilyPlay

A search of thisness into Google may reveal what the word means, but it can’t communicate the word’s unique connection to St. Bonaventure University.

The first result in a Google search of thisness is a Wikipedia page mentioning a man named Duns Scotus. Here lies a direct correlation to the required CLAR-207, Catholic and Franciscan Heritage Clare course.

“If you took Cath-Fran, there’s an important Franciscan theologian and scholar called John Duns Scotus,” said Chris Brown, coordinator for residential education and housing. “The term talks about the ways each individual person is unique and gifted, and, in the Franciscan tradition, that’s a gift from God.”

According to Brown, thisness is derived from the Latin word haecceitas. Scotus referred to someone’s thisness as qualities that make the person who he or she is. St. Bonaventure adopted this idea and ran with it -– but with a somewhat different approach.

Each student is an individual who contributes to the university as a whole. Nichole Gonzalez, executive director of residential living and chief judicial officer, and junior Joe Fagan, designed the puzzle pieces to fit the theme.

“It also talks about how we are all unique and gifted but in relation to one another,” Brown said. “Thisness started because there was a student who was concerned about a lot of the recent suicides that have come from bullying.”

Jacob Witter’s concern with the nation’s bullying problem snowballed into the puzzle pieces seen around campus. When the Bona junior approached Fr. Francis Di Spignio, O.F.M. with his concern, Fr. Francis decided to do something about it.

“There was a group of people called together by Fr. Francis from the University Ministries,” Brown said. “(The group consisted of) faculty, staff, students, the student government association and administrators from all over the campus to start talking about what we could do on campus to proactively address the issue of bullying.

“Even if it’s not a major problem now on campus, what we know is it’s a major problem in junior high schools and high schools, and those are the students coming to Bonaventure,” he continued.

There are nationwide anti-bullying organizations, but Brown said, using thisness makes this campaign very Bonaventure.

Lee-aving Nothing Behind: ‘They deserve more,’ says Crowley

By Tony Lee, Editor In Chief, @sHecKii

With a soft chuckle, coach Jim Crowley reflected on what he thought his St. Bonaventure career might have been after his 200th-career win.

“I didn’t think I’d stay here this long,” Crowley said on Dec. 7 after defeating Indiana, 65-45. “I thought people would get tired of me and move me out.”

That’s because Crowley once had a 57-119 coaching record, a winning percentage of 32.4 percent. He said he didn’t look at his record because he didn’t want to see it.

Now, all Crowley gets asked is about this season’s record and how a team picked sixth in the preseason Atlantic 10 Conference poll sits on top of the conference with a 16-2 record.

“I’m not sure people realize how good our players are,” Crowley said Saturday after winning a program-best third-straight A-10 game against St. Louis, 64-52. “They understand the value of the basketball.”

Crowley, despite his team receiving Associate Press Poll votes for a program-best fourth week in a row, answers questions about his team’s success as if he solved a century-long, unsolvable math equation.

I distinctly remember a media member saying, “I thought they were a fluke” before the coaches came in for a press conference after the 74-65 win at Temple on Jan. 11.

The Bonnies are legit, but that’s not the story.

“I’m so glad that coach gave me an opportunity to play here at St. Bonaventure,” said senior Armelia Horton, who has won a men’s and women’s basketball program-best 101 wins. 

“The coaches and the assistants,” she said, “they believe so much in the system that I just knew it wasn’t going to fail.”

That system, one Crowley admitted derived from when his back was against the wall, has not only changed the women’s program, but NCAA Division I basketball, too.

“We were in a situation in a few years ago where we it was the last of three-straight one-year deals — and there was new people coming in,” Crowley said of him and his staff. “If we didn’t have success and show progress, I was going to have to find a new career.”

But Crowley, who received a three-year extension prior to this season, didn’t just create a system.

The coaches believe. The players trust. The team wins.

“They’ve always been for real,” said Temple coach Tonya Cardoza on Jan. 11. “And most of the guys on their team weren’t recruited by a lot of schools, but they know that. And (Crowley) puts it into their heads. (He) has some workhorses that want to show everybody that have something to go out and prove to everybody. And that’s why they are so good.”

At their own school, NBA-prospect Andrew Nicholson and the men’s team out shadowed the women’s team. 

Despite making three-straight Women’s National Invitation Tournaments, the women’s basketball team averages around 600 attendees per game.

St. Bonaventure faces Richmond (14-3, 2-1) today at 7 p.m. The teams with the best A-10 records kick off the first basketball game since winter break at the Reilly Center.

Saturday’s game against St. Louis drew 479 people at the RC — but it’s far less than the 3,317 the men’s game had last Wednesday.

“I saw a lot of new faces there, which was really good,” Crowley said. “Obviously we’d like more — we appreciate all that come — but they deserve more, but we’re thankful for the ones that come. We just hope people try to find reasons to come than reasons not to.”

As long as the players continue to believe, Crowley and the Bonnies will see my mug on press row or in the stands consistently.

I’m obviously a believer. Now what about you?

Senior Armelia Horton, who achieved a program-best 101st career win Saturday, gave The Intrepid an exclusive interview after St. Bonaventure (16-2, 3-0) defeated St. Louis (6-12, 0-3), 64-52, at the Reilly Center.

“I enjoy being the underdog. I like being overlooked. I’m OK being picked sixth.”

After missing the last three games and four out of the last five with concussion-like symptoms, senior Megan Van Tatenhove returned to the court Tuesday in a 67-63 victory against Sacred Heart. 

Despite going 1 for 4 and missing both her free throw attempts, Van Tatenhove grabbed a key rebound with under a minute that sealed a program-best 13th non-conference win. 

Van Tatenhove gave The Intrepid an exclusive interview about her health, the Atlantic 10 Conference and the state of the Bonnies.