Elizabeth City State students disappointed in university's decision to house law enforcement officers

ELIZABETH CITY, N.C. (WTVD) -- There are no students on campus at Elizabeth City State University right now. The only people in their dorms were law enforcement officers, brought in from across the state. Now, some members of the student body say they're disappointed with the university.

"It's just like ... a punch in the stomach. It really hurts," said Quentin Williams, a junior at the university.

On Sunday night, Williams got an email from the university.

"It was really just like, OK wait, y'all sending us home?" Williams said.

RELATED: At least 2 arrests made as Elizabeth City police face off with protesters

At 10 p.m., the student body was told it needed to move out of the dorms by noon Thursday. Then Williams found out that Elizabeth City leaders asked the Historically Black University to provide housing for law enforcement officers from other jurisdictions who are assisting local police with demonstrations and crowd control.

"As someone who put so much time, so much energy, so much dedication into the university - it was like a slap in the face," Williams said.

In a statement, ECSU disputed that students were kicked out of dorm rooms.

"As a public university, ECSU has an obligation to support other public agencies in times of need, just as we count on their help when the campus makes a request," the university said in a statement. "None of the rooms being used were previously occupied by students. The decision to close residence halls was made in anticipation of the City declaring a state of emergency on Monday morning."

Williams said this decision is making him question his decision to stay a Viking.

"The school does care sometimes, but when it was time to stand with the students in the matter that really mattered with something that's happening worldwide -- as an HBCU, I think they took the wrong stance," Williams said.

The last day of classes has also been pushed back to next week and finals the week after that. It's still unclear what will happen to the university's graduation ceremony.

Late Friday, the city manager said the 13 public safety officers being housed at the university will be moved to off-campus lodging Saturday, due to more hotel rooms becoming available as visitors and media leave the city.

"We operated under our mutual aid agreement at the request of the City of Elizabeth City consistent with our responsibility as a state agency," school officials said in a statement. "We also have extended support and assistance to Andrew Brown's family during this most difficult time."
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