‘Always aware:’ JCSU maintains safety, security measures as new semester starts

JCSU received an unverified threat of violence in February
More than 1,000 students returned to Johnson C. Smith University on Monday.
Published: Aug. 15, 2022 at 6:25 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - More than 1,000 students returned to Johnson C. Smith University on Monday for the first day of classes.

The University is Charlotte’s only Historically Black University. University staff tells WBTV they’re expecting a total of 1,165 undergraduate and graduate students for the 2022-2023 school year.

Students in the class of 2023 say they’re looking forward to a normal school year after the onset of COVID-19 ravaged their freshman year during 2019-2020, virtual learning and limited capacity due to COVID continued during the 2020-2021 school year, and nearly 40 HBCU’s including JCSU received threats of violence during the 2021-2022 school year.

“We’ve had a long four years, especially with COVID taking place and I want to make sure I live it up to the fullest and make the best of my senior year,” said graduating senior Reyanna Putnam.

JCSU received an unverified specific threat of violence in February.

Related: Johnson C. Smith University investigating a specific threat of violence

The university has 24/7 security at the only drive-up entrance and exit at Beatties Ford Road. Visitors are required to show a valid ID at the front gate in order to enter the University.

JCSU also encourages students to enroll in the Alert! Emergency Communications system which sends texts, emails, and phone calls in the event of an emergency.

With the push of a button, students can call campus police and emergency services with the Code Blue blue light system.

“They can hit one of those call buttons and it goes to our dispatches down at campus police,” said Davida Haywood, the Vice President for Student Affairs.

There is also a police escort system that students can call if they don’t feel safe walking across campus.

Last week, several staff members and student resident advisors participated in active shooter training.

Stephan Dill is an RA and says the training was very helpful for RAs to provide information to their residents.

“They’re making sure that we’re always aware and pinpointing our exits and pinpoint what we should do at the moment,” Dill said.

With the first full day of classes underway, students and staff say they’re ready to move forward, still vigilant but diving back into the root of their purpose.

“I think we’re all just ready to get back to the business of educating the next generation of scholars and doing it in a way that’s meaningful in paying homage to our history and our future,” Haywood said.

While the golden bulls are small in number, students say their legacy is larger than life.

“We have to fight harder for everyone to notice that we are here and we get the same education everyone else gets,” Putnam said.

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