Goff incident prompts new focus on closure

Oct 10, 2021

Artist's rendering of the proposed student center at Claflin University to be situated along Magnolia between Goff Avenue and the presidential residence. 

Claflin University’s president hopes to close a portion of the public street that runs through campus.

On Sept. 30, President Dwaun J. Warmack met with Panther reporters via Zoom to discuss safety measures for Goff Avenue. His comments came following a shooting incident.

“It did not happen on Claflin’s campus,” Warmack said, but the incident reflects a problem.

Because Goff Avenue is a public/state road, Claflin has no jurisdiction over it. “It’s tough for us to mandate what happens there,” Warmack said.

Warmack said that his goal is to “close it down” from Clark to Magnolia but this is not a new conversation.

The university has been trying for years to acquire more property in order to control what happens on Goff Avenue.

“It’s going to be a heavy lift,” Warmack said. Neighboring houses are reluctant to sell.

Warmack said the university has made progress with the acquisition of the two white houses at the corner of Goff and Magnolia. He hopes to acquire the property beside Highrise dormitory (747 Goff Ave.) to further the agenda.

Warmack said the investment of the student center at Goff and Magnolia as well as owning more property will strengthen the chances of closing the street.

“Closing a state road is a tough challenge,” Warmack said. But Claflin will continue to be vigilant for the safety of students.

There were no injuries in the Sept. 24 incident, The Times and Democrat reported from information in an Orangeburg Department of Public Safety incident report.

Claflin’s Department of Public Safety contacted ODPS at 2:13 a.m. to report a shooting incident at Claflin Commons, a co-ed residential hall located at 744 Goff Ave.

Officers located shell casings near the road and on the sidewalk between dorms, The T&D reported.

A female student reported that a bullet struck her room window, damaging her television and then lodging in the wall.

Claflin University says its Department of Public Safety is working with ODPS regarding the incident.

Regarding what he has observed about Goff, Warmack said, “There’s typically a group of folks that go out there and are congregating in the evening … and locals will pull up and park their cars, pop the trunk and have music playing."

He explained that both Claflin and South Carolina State students use this space to gather, and this attracts locals.

“Because we don’t have jurisdiction of that street, it's tough for us to mandate what happens there," Warmack said.

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