Metal Detectors from the eyes and minds of students

After half of a semester with metal detectors in dorms, students claim they’ve experienced confiscations, inconsistencies, and variances in enforcement.


Elijah Pittman

Metal detectors are now installed in every on-campus dorm at Morgan State University as a part of a campus safety initiative.

Elijah Pittman, Staff Writer

As students returned to campus between Jan. 14-17, they were met with metal detectors at the entrances of their dorms. In the weeks following the introduction of the metal detectors, students began noticing inconveniences, and inconsistencies with the detectors.  

The installment of the metal detectors was never explicitly explained to students, as students only received an email from Kevin Banks, vice president for student affairs, explaining that there would be “safety screening devices in the building lobbies.”

Some of the hiccups surrounding the procedures include inconsistent bag checks, confiscation of safety devices, and varying enforcement procedures in different dorms. 

The following section follows the metal detector procedures and thoughts about the metal detectors from two students of each dormitory on campus. 

Metal detectors located in the Harper-Tubman House. (Thalya Baptiste)

Harper-Tubman House

At Harper-Tubman, residents don’t follow a consistent procedure. Students said sometimes they are bag checked, sometimes they take their bags through the detectors, or they may leave their bags at the security table. 

“It feels intimidating, and for me kind of inconvenient because I have a physical handicap making it a lengthier process to pass through with nothing going off, it does interrupt my process, most definitely,” said Jonah Foxworth, a freshman screenwriting and animation major. 

Harper-Tubman has a 100 percent bag check policy that was implemented a few weeks into the semester. When students enter the dorm they are met with a whiteboard that has “100 percent bag checks,” written on it. Despite this, the bag checks are still not 100 percent consistent and vary per guard, according to Yazzy Ogans, a sophomore nutritional sciences major. 

Another conflict with metal detectors is the confiscation of safety devices, like pepper sprays, defense sticks, and more, from women students due to the metal detectors. 

“My friend got her pepper spray confiscated and I don’t want that to happen to me because it keeps me safe, especially as a woman. I don’t see the point in confiscating safety tools,” said Ogans. 

O’Connell Hall

The procedure at O’Connell differs from most, according to freshman resident Rodney Maybin, where bag checks are more of a regular practice. Residents enter the dorm, empty their pockets, and walk through the detectors with their bags. If the detector rings they must surrender their bag for search. “My bag is always checked whenever I walk into my dorm and they search thoroughly each compartment of my bag,” said Maybin. 

The procedure also varies at O’Connell Hall, where bag checks happen both when the metal detectors are alerted and sometimes when they aren’t, according to Damari Thomas-Rufus, a freshman computer science major. 

“I feel like the detectors create a very uncomfortable and anxious environment…just the feeling of paying for your education just to get treated like a potential threat or issue isn’t very ideal,” said Thomas-Rufus. 

Rawlings Hall

Residents at Rawlings swipe their cards upon entry and drop their bags off before walking through the metal detectors and retrieving them upon exit. Students like Samuel Frazier, a freshman civil engineering major, said sometimes they have their bags checked, and sometimes they don’t. 

“Certain days I take my bag off and walk through [others] I just walk through with no check at all, too inconsistent,” said Frazier. 

As it pertains directly to bag checking, Maximillian Mables, a freshman screenwriting and animation major, said it only happens on occasion. 

“The metal detectors often draw a lot of unwanted attention, and for someone who’s introverted this causes a lot of unneeded stress,” explained Mables. 

“I feel as though the metal detectors are an unnecessary addition… it’s not fair because we have to deal with all these precautions that we know may or may not be necessary,” said Frazier.

Thurgood Marshall Hall

Students claim Thurgood Marshall Hall’s procedure is inconsistent, but the usual practice is to come through the entrance, place any bags on the security table and walk through the metal detectors according to Queen Stewart, a freshman theater major. 

They went further to explain the bag checks, detailing how it “depends on the security guard” and that bags aren’t always checked when entering the building. 

Much like their peers at other dorms, students at Thurgood Marshall Hall feel that the metal detectors provide a false sense of security and object generally to being searched upon entry to their dorms. 

“I understand that the metal detectors intend to put our safety first, however, I feel as if it’s contradictory considering the people it’s meant to keep safe are the primary suspects. Why should we be searched?” questioned Celeste Richardson, a freshman philosophy major. 

Blount Towers

Blount Towers follows a lenient procedure where residents swipe their cards upon entry and walk in one at a time. Students said if there is a beep the guard may ask if there’s a laptop and if they answer yes, they keep going. 

“They rarely ask, we just walk through and nobody says anything,” says Cheyenne Fowler, a junior sociology major, who feels like it adds a “false sense of security” to her daily entrance into her dorm. 

Nyagach Kueth, a freshman multimedia journalism major, expressed similar feelings towards the metal detectors as Fowler. 

“The mere fact that there are metal detectors, creates a connotation that the people who reside here are potentially dangerous, and are not to be trusted,” said Kueth. 

Baldwin Hall

Residents who stay in Baldwin Hall follow a similar procedure where they swipe their cards upon entry and either walk through the detectors, re-enter the detectors upon request, answer when asked about a laptop, or surrender their bags for search.

“The security guard assumes that it’s my laptop and lets me pass, what’s the point of having it if you’ll assume it’s my laptop anyways, it’s an extra unnecessary step,” said Tianna Jameswhite, a freshman political science major. 

Although the metal detectors were implemented to create a more safe environment, many students don’t feel the safety it’s supposed to add. 

“It makes me feel a little less safe actually. I tend to be out later, so I would feel more comfortable if I were able to have my knife in case something does happen, being a female on campus I’m at a higher risk,” said Quinn Jones, freshman industrial engineering major. 

Her sentiments echo concerns of safety in places outside of dorms, where violence near and on campus has actually happened, like the shootings at the Morgan view housing complex, student center, and Northwood Commons

Cummings House

Cummings House residents go through similar procedures as other dorms on campus, sometimes they are bag checked, sometimes they aren’t, and sometimes students are told even to remove the contents of their bags. 

“I have to walk through the metal detector, once it beeps I go back and walk through them again and open my bag,” said a Cummings resident who wished to remain anonymous.  

Anaiaya Reid, a freshman business administration major, is one of a few women students who have had their safety devices, like pepper spray, confiscated by security guards. The prohibition of pepper sprays is a rule that, although implied in the student code of conduct, hasn’t been heavily enforced until the implementation of metal detectors.

“Whenever I leave [my dorm] I’m at risk of attack and have nothing to protect myself with because they confiscated my mace…it’s a safety hazard not to have something to protect myself as a woman living in Baltimore,” said Reid.