S.C. State students voice safety concerns as SLED investigates two on-campus shootings in March

South Carolina State University is adding extra security measures to campus.
Published: Mar. 28, 2023 at 8:33 PM EDT

ORANGEBURG, S.C. – (WIS) Students at South Carolina State University in Orangeburg are raising concerns about their safety following two on-campus shootings this month.

Both happened at the Hugine Suites apartment complex.

The most recent shooting happened on Saturday night at around 11:30 P.M. There were no injuries.

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On March 3, another shooting there On March 3, another shooting at the apartments left a student injured.

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In response, the university has committed to adding several safety measures.

Some students tell WIS that they wish university leadership had acted sooner.

They also say that the shooting this past weekend did not surprise them because it has become commonplace to hear gunshots from their dorms.

“We came here for school, for education, and also to have like a good college experience, too” S.C. State freshman Jamyla Anderson said. “I don’t feel like that right there is part of what a good college experience should be like.”

One student, who requested anonymity due of safety concerns, said she jumped from her bed and took cover when the most recent shooting happened.

“We hear gunshots pretty frequently,” she said. “People like me who are not used to hearing that every night, it’s kind of like sometimes it’s hard to distinguish whether they’re fireworks or gunshots, but at this point I think I’m pretty used to the sound now since being here.”

The South Carolina Law Enforcement Division is investigating both incidents.

The agency has not announced any arrests.

Last semester, multiple students were injured in two separate shootings just blocks away from campus, at housing not affiliated with S.C. State.

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The female student said Tuesday she feels as though the university needs to “push harder” in its response.

“You can continuously say that you’re doing this and you’re doing that, but if the campus and your students aren’t seeing that change, it’s kind of hard to take you seriously and to trust you because not much is being done from our standpoint.”

S.C. State announced a number of new safety measures Monday, including not allowing non-students to visit campus after 9 P.M., the addition of six armed, SLED-certified guards and added lighting and fencing behind Hugine Suites.

The university will also seek to devote more resources to a 24-hour monitoring center that displays all campus security cameras.

“Personally I feel like it should have happened awhile ago because I mean after the first shooting, I feel like that should have done something about it, but I don’t think it should have taken more than one or two,” Zavier Kegler, S.C. State freshman, said.

Anderson expressed a similar sentiment.

“I feel like it should have been done a long time ago,” she said. “I feel like it should not take this many times for the same thing to happen over and over and over again for you to just now start to take action.”

S.C. State President Alexander Conyers began a $1 million initiative to upgrade security technology across the campus when he assumed the leadership post in 2021.

This included the installation of 700 cameras and 27 emergency call boxes.

The female student said she feels as though the university is hearing students out, but not fully understanding their concerns.

“You can say you understand, but if you’re not really taking into consideration and giving a definite answer on certain things, you’re not really understanding where we’re coming from,” she said.

At a forum with students on Monday evening, Conyers promised to work with them to continue to develop more ways to keep them safe.

A spokesman for S.C. State said candidates for the six armed guards to staff campus entry gates and other locations have already been identified, and they are now working through the employment process.

A university official was not available for an interview Tuesday.

WIS reached out to the Orangeburg County Sheriff’s Office and the Orangeburg Department of Public Safety for an update on the two off-campus shootings from last semester in August and October of last year.

Both agencies said the investigations are active, and no arrests have been made at this point.

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