Recent shootings, robberies and theft in the AUC area have made campus safety a priority for issue for college administrators. With the beginning of a new academic semester, security changes have come along with it.
The most noticeable change: security officers who ask for identification now guard campus entry points at Morehouse. Morehouse College Police Chief Vernon Worthy believed these changes to be necessary to provide a safer environment for Morehouse students.
“There were concerns about safety,” Worthy said. “One of the things we wanted to do was to make sure that all persons on this property were constituents of Morehouse.”
Worthy said these changes were partially student driven and that thus far, the reception received from students has been positive.
“The first day there were inquiries about ‘why are they doing this?’ and ‘why did he stop me?’ Once we explain ourselves, we let you know that we are there to make sure those in your midst are those who belong in your midst,” Worthy said.
“With that explanation, students, faculty and staff have accepted it very gracefully, and we are seeing a level of confidence based on these improvements.”
In addition to security guards stationed at all of the entrances to the Morehouse campus, improvements include new cameras around the Otis Moss Suites.
Jamelle Brown, a junior Biology major, agrees with the extra precautions taken by campus security.
“I think being at the gates and checking IDs is a good idea because I’ve seen people on our campus that I know aren’t supposed to be there,” Brown said.
According to Chief Worthy, the plans to bolster campus security have been in the works for the past few months even though the execution of these plans took place after the robbery of the Living and Learning Center (LLC), putting in question the timing of carrying out these security plans.
“It was purely coincidental,” Worthy said, when asked about the timing of the LLC robbery and the implementation of the security plans. “This plan was already in motion; the LLC incident only gave us a drop dead date. It needed to happen and it did happen.”
Worthy also stated that the still-struggling economy plays a role in what is happening with crime and security, not only at Morehouse, but around the country.
“One thing we know is that people are getting desperate out there,” Worthy said. “Any person who has the potential to be a victim will get victimized. As it relates to hiring security personnel, we try to get people with experience and who are acclimated to this kind of work. When we do get qualified applicants, they are looking for more money than we can actually afford.”
Although campus security is trying to curb campus area crime, Worthy wanted to remind students that it is incumbent upon them to assist in the efforts.
“We implore anyone who is providing an event that you, too, have a responsibility. As it relates to ‘Hump Wednesday’ and other events, we want the residential staff, student service staff and all eyes and ears to assist us so when outsiders do come to our property they, too, will be under our scrutiny.”
Ramon Hogan admits that, while security can be a hassle, it is wise for them to increase security. “It is good that they increased security even though security can be a bit pushy,” said Hogan, a sophomore psychology major. “Sometimes they’ll bother people who are already on campus; if you’re on campus already that means you have already checked to get on campus. However, it is good that they increased security because it was getting kind of wild with people getting robbed inside of dorms.”
With the increased vigilance of campus security and the assistance of students, safety officers hope that “Morehouse will be a safe house.”
Associate Campus News Editor