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
Lucy Nicolaro February 26, 2014 at 08:33 AM
I agree 100%. My son is a freshman there and we were looking at Rutgers for my daughter. I am highly disappointed in how the Rutgers Administration is handling this. My heart goes out to Billy's family.
Sissy Strose February 27, 2014 at 10:39 AM
Kudos to you, Jacqui, for your letter. I am not a parent but Billy was friends with my nephew. I first saw him as an 8 year old boy and knew that my nephew remained friends with him and even went to Rutgers parties with him. This hits close to home and is very disturbing. Add to that the fact that RU is turning their backs on a former student, a human being, a young promising soul who they were more than happy to accept 3.5 years of tuition from, is disgusting. I live nearby (East Brunswick) and I am very frustrated at what seems to be apathy on the part RU and even students who "may" know what happened to this kid. Maybe the university could have sent out a note urging its students to come forward. Or assure them that their safety is extremely important. How about a condolence to the family? I bet it has occurred to them that the killer(s) could be RU students. I'm sure they don't want any parts of that. This is reminiscent of Penn State who thought it was more important to save face than to protect innocent children. this family deserves the help of RU and all of us in finding who did this to their beloved son. Stop thinking about your wallet RU! Do the right thing!
Dawn Kelly February 27, 2014 at 04:55 PM
It is not just one parent who is upset with Rutgers University's inaction in the wake of Billy's McCaw's murder. I am also a parent of a senior at Rutgers and my daughter has been a close friend of Billy's since the very first day of their freshman year. I am shocked and disturbed by Rutgers lack of concern and compassion for a student of theirs. I have called Rutgers President Barchi and have sent emails to him, all of which have been ignored. My daughter returned home immediately after hearing about the violent murder of her dear friend. She was looking to us, as her parents, for guidance and assurances that she would be safe returning to campus to finish her senior year. She was also looking for support in dealing with the unexplainable death. We could not give her those assurances since Rutgers has simply decided to ignore the entire situation. This has left so many of Billy's friends and classmates to deal with their feelings of loss, pain, anger, frustration and sadness all on their own. Rutgers was my daughter's "dream school" and her 4 years there are now ending in a nightmare. An abusive basketball coach at the University made national news but the murder of a student on campus is ignored. I live in south Jersey, 90 minutes from the University and not one news station or newspaper has covered the story. Relatives in north Jersey have also not heard anything about Billy's murder. How can this be? Isn't Rutgers a New Jersey state university? Wouldn't it be helpful to the investigation if more people in the area knew about it, perhaps offering tips or clues? I can't even get the President of the University or anyone on his staff to acknowledge my phone call or emails. The entire situation is tragic. My thoughts and prayers are with Billy and his family
Sissy Strose February 28, 2014 at 11:49 AM
If Billy had won a gold medal at Soch or an Oscar or donated money to RU, I am assured they would have acknowledged his death, former student or not. Kean U., Hillsborough HS and his Tennessee HS have all made public statements and sent condolences to his family. We're not asking for RU to accept blame; it isn't their fault. We'd like to see some compassion, some support, some validation of this kid who loved this school so much and died just yards from it's soil. Be there for your students, this is terrifying! We don't know what happened that night. We aren't asking for a guarantor or goat. Just some words from the pink elephant in the room.


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