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
Worry, sorrow, remembrance:
Students react to shooting
By JERILYN GAMBLE and TARYN HARGROVE
On Friday, Jan. 24, 2014, at approximately 1:30 p.m., a shooting occurred on the campus of South Carolina State University. Reaction is continuing.
Outside of Andrew Hugine Suites is where 19-year-old Brandon Robinson – a student and football player – was shot and killed. While the incident took place at the university adjacent to Claflin, the Claflin Department of Public Safety was quick to respond.
Claflin was placed on lockdown for about two hours. Students were told to remain in the buildings and dorms. With the commotion going on, Claflin students were shaken and shocked by the occurrences. They expressed their concerns.
According to Zakariya Ali, a sophomore biology major, “I was in Tingley and I tried to open the door and it was locked. Barbara Razor told me that there was a shooting at State and Claflin took action immediately.
“I was not allowed to go out at all and I’d have to say I felt a little bit safer,” Ali said.
Senior Ashley Turner said, “I feel that Claflin handled the situation to the best of their abilities by locking the school down to ensure the safety of the students along with the faculty and staff.”
“My feelings about the shooting on the SCSU campus (is that it) could have been avoided if the security was strictly enforced better and if the students handled conflict through talking instead of violence with guns,” Turner said.
Junior Jayla McCaw said, “I felt the incident at S.C. State was very tragic. Even though it did not take place on CU’s campus, it still hit close to home. It’s sad that such a young life was taken so violently.”
“I feel Claflin University handled the situation correctly by letting us know as soon as they found out what happened and sending out Panther Alerts. Also by following the proper protocol in this situation, by keeping students in the classroom and sounding the warning sirens across campus,” McCaw said.
Social media indicated that S.C. State students were saddened and angered by the tragic event. They lost a colleague and the reputation of their school was at stake.
“Claflin students found out what was going on before we did,” SCSU student Jordyn Fox said. It was said by many of the students of SCSU that school authorities waited an hour after the shooting to ring the alarm and notify students.
Claflin student Deysha Miller echoed Fox’s sentiments.
“The fact that State officials said that the shooters left campus immediately and that there was no imminent harm on campus is ridiculous and irresponsible,” Miller said. “Students should be alerted immediately whenever there is a safety issue on campus.”
Calvin Brown, a senior mechanical engineer major at S.C. State, described the tragic event as a day that will never be forgotten and one that has brought SCSU students closer together.
Brown said, “I was surprised that an actual shooting occurred on our campus, especially in broad daylight when students were on their way to classes and leaving out of their dorms.
“It’s really sad to know that a young man with a bright future lost his life, but as a university we are coming together because as Bulldogs that’s what we do.”
S.C. State students stressed their university is still a safe place to receive an education.
Darryle Witherspoon, a senior professional English major said, “This could have happened anywhere. He (Robinson) did not leave home to get an education. He’s from Orangeburg; he stayed home.”
On Jan. 31, many Claflin students joined with those from SCSU for a candlelight vigil in remembrance of Robinson.
Quite a few students who attended Orangeburg-Wilkinson High with Robinson were at the service on the SCSU campus. South Carolina State Student Government Association President Akeem Brown said “the tragic loss of the football player affected him (Brown) not only as a leader among his peers, but also personally.”
Brown attended O-W with Robinson. He expressed his disbelief that the fatal incident occurred in his city and on his campus.
“Tonight does not stop what we have to do. We have to continue the legacy,” Brown said.
Another speaker was Robinson’s former coach from Orangeburg- Wilkinson, Tommy Brown, who described Brandon as one-of-a-kind. He said he knows Robinson is in heaven making everyone smile.
Monet Heyward, director of the Baptist Collegiate Ministry, offered words of encouragement on the importance of life and living it abundantly.
She posed the question, “Are you wasting your life away or are you doing something with it?” Heyward challenged students to understand their purpose.
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!”