Local HBCUs concerned about campus safety following shooting at Morgan State University

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Thursday, October 5, 2023
Local HBCUs concerned about campus safety after Morgan State shooting
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Safety concerns rise on university campuses following a shooting at Morgan State University.

DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- Five people including four students were injured after a shooting at Morgan State University, a historically Black university in Baltimore, Maryland.

Those safety concerns are also being felt here in North Carolina at our local HBCUs.

At North Carolina Central University's campus in Durham, many Eagles with a heavy heart. Sophomore communications major Shimei Cook said he spoke with a friend at Morgan State, who is doing okay, but shares his frustration that shootings keep happening.

"It's sad how our society is just you know attacking students who want to go get their education," Cook said.

In the wake of the UNC lockdowns, some students said they were told about NCCU's alert system but still worry about what would happen if they were in that situation themselves.

"We haven't been informed of any protocols or steps to go about in those situations, it makes it even more nerve-wracking," said senior Raven Hawkins.

NCCU Police Chief Damon Williams has been in contact with his counterpart at Morgan State and says HBCUs are a close community and this hits close to home.

"When one is affected we are all affected," Williams said.

NCCU Police are part of a nationwide network of HBCU campus police, sharing information about the unique challenges they face.

"We still deal with issues of racism they exist in this country no matter what people say, those things exist and they're very clearly displayed when you have bomb threats issued to HBCUs solely," Williams said.

After dozens of bomb threats targeting HBCUs in 2022, NCCU was one of three HBCUs awarded a federal grant for safety and mental health resources. Chief Williams said that grant, along with funding from the legislature, allowed them to beef up security.

"Everything from LPRs to gunpowder and bomb detection canines to a lot of good infrastructure that will shore up security across campus," he said.

In addition to those extra eyes and ears, NCCU also has lockdown protocols to immediately notify all campus phones and computers and an alarm system.

While students hope that day will never come, that hope is slowly being shattered.

"Being Black people in America it's our life, you know we always have a target on our back and it's sad but it's the truth," Cook said.