RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Eighteen Shaw University students were stopped and searched while riding to an economic conference in Atlanta.
University President Dr. Paulette Dillard said the stop and search happened on Oct. 5.
The group was riding in a bus to the Center for Financial Advancement Conference when deputies in Spartanburg County, South Carolina, pulled the bus over. Dillard said the bus was pulled over for a minor traffic violation and then deputies used drug-sniffing dogs to search through students' suitcases.
Dillard said the moment was reminiscent of the 1950s and 60s.
"In a word, I am 'outraged.' This behavior of targeting Black students is unacceptable and will not be ignored nor tolerated. Had the students been White, I doubt this detention and search would have occurred," she said.
"Why would you think they're about to do something they're not supposed to? Why do you just think it was drugs or something?" student Tionna Mayo asked.
Shaw University students were confused and shocked by what happened.
"It's 2022. I don't understand why students are being harassed in this form or fashion," Brendan Truynor said.
Students at Shaw said an experience like that could cloud the opinion of the people involved.
"I feel like that could be a little traumatizing. Just know everything that's happened to black people with police officers," Nikaya Matier said.
Dillard said the deputies found nothing illegal in their search and issued the driver a warning ticket for "improper lane use," saying the bus was swerving while driving down the road.
"Our students stood tall amid an unnerving and humiliating experience and because of their dignified and professional response, the situation did not escalate into something far more sinister," she said.
Shaw University is now investigating what happened and may pursue legal action.
ABC11 reached out to the Spartanburg County Sheriff's Office to find out more about the traffic stop. However, a lieutenant said they could not share any information about the stop without specifics such as the name of the bus driver and tag information. Shaw University said it would not be releasing any further details at this time.