Brandon Robinson, 19, an S.C. State student shown here in a Facebook image, was shot to death on Jan. 24, 2013.
By EVA FREEMAN
Claflin University set off its Panther Alert sirens, asked students to remain in classrooms and locked the doors on campus buildings.
On Jan. 24, Orangeburg received national publicity because of the fatal shooting of football player and student Brandon A. Robinson, 19, at South Carolina State University, a killing that is still under investigation. The shooting so close to home begged the question: “Are students across the fence at Claflin University subject to the same kind of violent circumstances?”
If there is a threat such as an active shooter at Claflin University, or in the surrounding community, there are extensive security policies in place in order to protect students.
Claflin Director of Public Safety Steve Pearson summarized the policy: “If there is a threat of violence, the first thing we do is notify the campus community that an issue exists. This is immediately done through our Panther Alert system, which is text messages, emails and the emergency siren.
“The campus would be locked down, meaning all entrances to the campus will be closed. All buildings on the campus will be locked and the people inside will be ordered to stay where they are if where they are is safe, until they are told by law enforcement that it is safe to move. Other area schools would be immediately notified along with state and local police agencies.”
The policy was employed on Jan. 24, Pearson said, with students receiving Panther Alert emails as soon as it was determined that there was a possible threat as the shooting suspects fled the scene.
Additionally, students were asked not to leave their classrooms, and the doors of the buildings were locked, Pearson said. Sirens alerted any students who happened to be walking around campus that danger was lurking and they should get inside quickly.
Throughout the entire lockdown and until all suspects (one charged with murder and four charged as accessories) had been apprehended over the coming days, students continued to receive e-mail updates containing information about the investigation.
While not distributed via email, Claflin confirmed in media reports that one of the accessory suspects was a university student. Two others reportedly were previously enrolled.
While some Claflin students have expressed the opinion that not enough was done to warn students of the danger, the reaction on campus has been mild compared to feelings on the S.C. State campus.
Students there expressed outrage via social media, mainly Twitter, at the lack of notification that they received during the entire ordeal. Many students there have said they only learned of the shooting when checking their Twitter feed between classes, when the sirens began to sound at Claflin, or when concerned family contacted them after getting news reports of the shooting.
SCSU officials have been questioned by the university board about response to the shooting, with an inquiry being underway and questions being asked about safety on campus.
Statistics show both campuses do not experience a lot of crime.
Claflin Department of Public Safety Crimes Statistics indicate there were two assaults on campus in 2011-12.
South Carolina State had five aggravated assaults, according to its Campus Safety and Security Survey released for 2011-12. FBI numbers show a total of 11 aggravated assaults at SCSU for the same year.
Claflin has various policies in place for verbal and physical altercations. If a verbal altercation takes place, students will be referred to campus administration, where treatment differs by situation.
If there is a physical altercation that can be proven as an assault, students are assisted by campus police in pressing charges.
Pearson stressed readiness for future events, insisting students can prevent them by signing up for Panther Alert, being aware of their surroundings and reporting any suspicious activity.
He also warns students, “If there appears to be dangerous activities at the event, leave the event as soon as possible. Don’t go to events alone if you can help it.”
Claflin and South Carolina State are recovering from the fatal shooting incident that took the life of Brandon Robinson over what reportedly was the spillover from an earlier argument.
Both universities are taking measures to ensure there is no repeat.
And both are asking students to proceed with caution and seek immediate help if they feel threatened.
Additional Resources: Security Reports
Claflin 2010-2011- http://www.claflin.edu/docs/campus/crime-statistics-2010-2011.pdf?sfvrsn=2
Are campuses more dangerous now than ever before?
By KEENAN ROBINSON
Since December 2012 there have been approximately 28 deaths in shootings that have occurred at a school. Does that mean there is a greater risk now than ever before?
According to recent studies, the national violent crime rate has actually been steadily decreasing for the past two decades. The numbers today match those of the late 1960s, reaching around 14,000 murders annually. That is a decrease compared to decades such as ‘70s and the ‘80s, when killings numbered anywhere from 17,000-24,500.
So what makes it seem as though the crime rate has increased?
Claflin University freshman Tallon Lewis believes that globalization may have played a huge part in the way these events are perceived. “The fact that news can spread a lot faster makes it seem as though isolated incidents are somewhat connected. In earlier generations, such news did not always make syndicated television and by the time it got national attention, the story had little relevance.”
Claflin senior Jelisa Ashby thinks otherwise. “It’s a lot easier to buy a gun these days! The Internet has given people the ability to bypass the necessary procedures in place to purchase a gun, therefore putting weapons in the hands of people who otherwise would be denied!”