LETTER: Rutgers Missed a Teachable Moment in Wake of Former Student's Death

One parent is upset by the University's inaction in the wake of Billy McCaw's death.

The parent of a Rutgers student addressed the university's reaction to the murder of a former student in a letter submitted to Patch.

Here is the letter:

Dear Rutgers,

I am disappointed in your leadership team.

And you can just ask my daughter, currently a RU senior, how much worse it is for me to be disappointed than for me to be angry?

Four years ago I sat in the College Avenue Gym and was welcomed as a Rutgers Parent during incoming freshman orientation. The statement I most remember was “Parents, college is not a vocational school. Don’t worry if your child does not have a career path in mind. College is a place of learning and our students learn, grow and develop tools to be successful for the rest of their lives”.

Rutgers – you just missed an important TEACHABLE MOMENT.

A beloved young man was killed in your community. He was not currently a Rutgers student. It was not on official campus property.

But look around. Billy McCaw continues to be embraced by the Rutgers students and community that he loved so much.

They are grieving. They are stunned. And some are scared.

And there has not been one statement from Rutgers. Not even a response to multiple questions on the Rutgers Parents Associations Facebook page regarding safety concerns for our children – your students.

I have to surmise it is because, officially, the crime does not “belong” to Rutgers. There is not an announcement of increased security or more cohesive cooperation between NBPD and RUPD, not an expression of sorrow at a life cut too short, not an offer of counseling or support for our children who we entrusted to your guidance, not even an acknowledgement that it happened.


We belong to one universe. What happens to one of us happens to all of us. Even though Billy McCaw was not a current Rutgers student he was part of the culture and touched many, many lives.

I am so disappointed that Rutgers promotes such an inclusive environment and your complete silence about his death seems to be saying something completely different – that “he was not our responsibility”.

That is wrong.

Look around. Students have stepped up to support each other and his family. There is a Facebook page with over 1000 members In Memory of Billy McCaw. In just 4 days there have been 774 contributions totaling over $23,000 to a fund to help support his family. There was a vigil on campus attended by hundreds. T-shirts have been designed to honor his memory with a smile. There are plans for a student tribute at an upcoming RU Basketball game.

It is never too late to do the right thing. Let your students teach the university this time. Billy McCaw left a lasting impression on the Rutgers community. Acknowledge it, express sympathy and inspire confidence that safety concerns are important for every human being in your community.


Jacqui Klein
Pen Man February 26, 2014 at 09:23 AM
Yes it is a teachable lesson for everyone..... When our youngsters decide to enter in the underworld of drug distribution they are choosing to enter a world that is violent, unpoliced, and tragically sometime they pay a very high price because of that..... http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2011/02/two_rutgers_students_are_charg.html ..... So let our young learn from the truly sad and tragic death of this young man, that the world of drug dealing is not like the glamor TV portrays, and the lure of easy money is always filled with danger.
Sissy Strose March 04, 2014 at 07:40 PM
Pen man, why are u here essentially gossiping? Something that happened 3 years ago is not necessarily relevant nor does it justify Billy being murdered. Did it occur to u that his parents could read this, while u sit back and play Monday-morning quarterback? U don't have any idea what happened so stop speculating. And if u know something, stop playing CSI and contact police. Posting a link to a stale article doesn't help anybody. This is real life, not Clue or TV.


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