Samantha Bordoff learned about the alleged rape at Hofstra University from a fellow student's Facebook status update. Adriana Figueroa clicked onto CNN online for the news that students say happened in her own dorm. And Brittney Jones, like many others, was informed by her parents.
Across Hofstra University Tuesday, students expressed shock and some anger, saying university officials should have done a better -- and quicker -- job of communicating to students that a rape had allegedly occurred at an on-campus dorm early Sunday morning.
Four men are charged with raping the victim, an 18-year-old student, in an orchestrated ambush where one lured her from a party by taking her cell phone, Nassau police said Tuesday.
One of the suspects is a Hofstra student; the other three were signed into the dorm by the student. Police have identified and are searching for a fifth suspect.
"Last year we had a lockdown when there was a shooting" off campus, said Figueroa, 19, a sophomore from Westchester County who lives in Estabrook Hall, where students say the suspect lived and the crime took place. "They should have let all the students know sooner."
Police would not confirm where the suspect lived or where the crime occurred.
University officials informed students of the attack with a posting on its internal home page Monday afternoon. But students said they first learned about the attack from the media, calls from parents or word-of-mouth, and said the posting on the Web site didn't have pertinent information, such as the dorm in which the attack occurred.
Melissa Connolly, vice president of university relations at Hofstra, said the university's text message and e-mail alert system is only used when there's an "imminent threat."
The suspects in this case were all identified by police quickly, she said. "We don't ever get in front of a police investigation and release information before them if it's not an imminent threat to campus," Connolly said.
In a second posting to the Web site Tuesday at about 3 p.m., University officials updated students on the investigation and outlined several measures they are taking in response to the attack. The letter said officials have increased public safety patrols and have started a hotline for concerned parents.
Still, students said the postings on the campus Web site meant little. "It's weird because we usually get letters about muggings and other crimes," said Amanda Stolcz, 20, of Howard Beach, Queens.
But Stolcz and others said they still feel safe on campus, for the most part.
Alise Lingenau, 18, a sophomore from Bellmore, said she wanted to know more about what happened but didn't think an immediate warning was warranted.
"Obviously if someone has a gun, that's something everyone needs to know about right way," she said. "I think the school probably thought they were doing the right thing by not alerting everyone all at once."
With Newsday staff writer Andrew Strickler