Spokesman Editorial: Metal detectors in dorms – An idea that needs rethinking

Akira Kyles

In the heart of an urban community plagued with violence, murder and death, there is Morgan State University. More times than we would like, we have covered the times when the invisible wall of safety has been crossed by the violence that surrounds the campus. Now the administration wants to take some deeper action to fix the breach in the wall, but how far is too far?

Metal detectors – that’s too far. One day following a reported shooting at Morgan View apartments April 2, an off-campus housing facility, the university announced the possibility of adding metal detectors into dorms.

Safety is a vital element for students and their parents, but, for many, the image of metal detectors implies enslavement more than safety. Students already face restrictions on how long and when dorm guests can visit, as well as, in some cases, who can visit. are already restricted with who, how long and when they can have guests in their dorms.

The Spokesman has, in recent years, stayed away from commenting on campus matters, preferring to report on events and provide information for interested and affected parties to make their own judgments.

However, the prospect of metal detectors in the dorms of one of the nation’s oldest and respected Historically Black Colleges and Universities struck us as an idea that needed our perspective.

It’s ironic that the trial balloon of metal detectors in campus dorms was floated after the Morgan View incident, as metal detectors wouldn’t be a solution there since Morgan wouldn’t be able to add them in those off-campus sites unless American Campus Communities, which manages the property for the university, agreed.

It strikes us that off-campus sites like Morgan View and Marble Hall Gardens are more at risk of possible crime and have more crime reports than on-campus dorms.

Indeed, just last Thursday, Morgan State police reported a student was robbed by three juveniles at gun point at a bus stop just across the street from Morgan View.

Metal detectors wouldn’t have helped that student. In an interview with The Spokesman, Morgan President David Wilson said twice there has been no decision made on metal detectors being added to campus.

Wilson also made the valid point that students of Morgan View should help administration with expressing their grievances to American Campus Communities.

Previous meetings between university administration and the management company have produced results at Morgan View such as added security, a repaired back gate and a front gate manned around the clock, seven days a week.

So, before Morgan State adds metal detectors on campus, the administration should first explore options to make off-campus housing safer.  A college campus should be a place of academic freedom, not a site where students are made to feel like criminals.