Students raise concerns of safety following recent nearby shootings

Benjamin McKnight

After two shootings occurred within days of one another at the BP gas station in Northwood Plaza, Morgan State University’s police department instituted extra safety measures to satisfy the concerns of students.

The shootings are just the latest in a series of violent incidents that have plagued the university and its surrounding communities in the last few years, including the stabbing deaths of students Marcus Edwards in September and Gerald Williams last February.

“Given the recent events, I do find myself taking more precaution when on campus, especially when I am alone” explained Hannah Sawyerr, a junior English major. She added that despite these events and others like them, she doesn’t generally feel unsafe.

Lawrence Freeman, a junior psychology major who says he saw one of the shootings at the gas station as he was leaving the area and was grazed by a bullet, said that the incidents do not necessarily change his mind about the university. “I do feel fairly safe on campus,” said Freeman. “There’s a lot of security and patrol officers who go around, so I do feel safe enough.” As for the BP attacks, he said that those are more of a reflection of the surrounding communities and that they remind him of his home in Prince George’s County.

Other students, such as sophomore electrical engineering major Anthony Turner and sophomore business management major Sheena Williams, say that they do not feel safe after the sun goes down.

“(Morgan) is an open campus,” said Turner, “so criminal activity is more probable.”

Williams feels especially afraid because she is a young woman. “I do not like walking anywhere by myself past sunset if a trusted man is not present,” she said. She added that she does not think Morgan has lived up to some of the promises they made to fix the problems, saying, “I think the police should be more interactive in regards to patrolling and [ask] students if they need to be escorted to their dorms.”

Khadijat Jimoh, a junior nutritional science major, expressed that she’s felt unsafe at times but isn’t so much concerned for herself. “I’m more concerned for my male friends more than myself,” Jimoh explained. “Most violent incidents and robberies (in this area) have targeted the young [men] on our campus.”

Some of the steps instituted by campus president David Wilson to increase safety for students include hiring more security and installing an escort service for students; instead of walking to Northwood, or to Marble Hall Gardens that’s farther past the plaza, they can now be driven there by campus police. As the seasons change and it starts getting dark earlier, these new additions are certain to be tested.

*Updated on Nov. 6. A previous version of this article read that Freeman “claims to have been grazed by a bullet,” which has been officially confirmed.*