Metal Detectors Two Months Later: Administration’s Response

Students grapple with navigating the added security precautions in on-campus housing.


Thalya Baptiste

Metal detectors located in the Harper-Tubman House.

Elijah Pittman, Staff Writer

Metal detectors were installed in all on-campus dormitories over two months ago after students returned to campus from winter break.

Many students went to social media to voice their frustrations concerning the metal detectors, with some reaching out to campus officials to voice their concerns.

Screenshot of student complaint from popular Morgan State student forum app “Fizz.” (Fizz App)

“I get complaints daily about that, [metal detectors] when in all actuality they were put there to make sure weapons are not being brought into residence halls and to ensure the safety of students, but students don’t receive that,” Jaden Dawson, student government association president, said to the Spokesman.

Resoundingly, the university’s administration has maintained a similar position to Dawson in that students should learn to adapt to the metal detectors as opposed to being against them.

“I know it’s an inconvenience, but in workspaces across the country, people have to go through metal detectors every day, particularly government buildings, courthouses…you do get used to it,” said Kevin Banks, vice president of student affairs.

Many students are subjected to bag checks as they enter residence halls, with the university’s Harper-Tubman dormitory having a 100 percent bag check policy regardless of if the detectors are alerted.

Thurgood Marshall Hall, Morgan’s newest dormitory, conducts bag checks only upon metal detector alerts, with other residence halls following a similar protocol.

“Random bag checks are not a part of the security enhancements for entering a residence hall, however, in the event of a safety screening device alert…he/she [security personnel] may ask to check the bag of the individual,” said Larry Jones, assistant vice president of public relations.

A common item that alerts the metal detectors is laptops, and as nearly all students own a laptop, this makes for frequent bag checks as students retire to their dorms.

“It shouldn’t be picking up laptops…we would have to take a look at the frequency, [like] ‘how often does that happen? Is it becoming an inconvenience?’” said Jones.

He later clarified in an email that the metal detectors cannot be changed to not be alerted by laptops. Jones suggests students remove their laptops before entering their residence halls if they wish not to have their bags checked.

Another obstacle students are facing concerning security protocols is the confiscation of safety tools from cis-female and female-identifying students by security guards.

Many cis-female and female-identifying students have had their pepper sprays, defense sticks, and tasers confiscated despite the devices having no record of having been used inside on-campus dorms.

Jones referred to the student code of conduct in reference to the confiscation of pepper sprays, explaining that they are prohibited under a clause banning the possession of devices that may be used to “incapacitate” others.

Students have expressed frustration with their safety devices being confiscated under this rule. Many have explained they don’t feel safe without the devices considering the university is an open campus in a major city.

When asked about what the administration will do to boost security for cis-female and female-identifying students, Jones explained that the administration doesn’t differentiate between safety for female and male students.

“We don’t have a particular strategy specifically just for female students…we look at it as making sure we increase safety for all students,” Jones said.

The metal detectors, in total, cost the university $260,000, which was taken from a State of Maryland appropriation for campus security measures, according to the administration.