“See something, say something”: SC State students call for more safety measures after recent lockdown

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Published: Oct. 19, 2023 at 10:53 PM EDT
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ORANGEBURG, S.C. (WIS) - The South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) is investigating an alleged sexual assault in a student housing complex on the South Carolina State University campus.

The assault led to the campus being put on lockdown for more than two hours on Wednesday, Oct.18.

Hugine Suites is known to be a main gathering spot for students on campus.

However, following Wednesday night’s reported sexual assault students are urging SC State officials to implement more safety measures on campus.

Just after 9 p.m., students received a notification of a campus lockdown following a sexual assault in the F building of Hugine Suites.

“Honestly, the whole situation was very disheartening. I really feel sorry for the person that had this happen to them. Honestly all around, Hugine… we’ll since I’ve been on campus, Hugine has always had a lot of problems such as shootings, people having weapons in Hugine, and things like that,” said Summer Gray, a current S.C. State sophomore.

The message told students to shelter in place and described the suspect before the lockdown was lifted around 11:30 p.m. that night.

“I feel like S.C. State needs to buckle down on how strict they are with letting people in and out the gate and forcing IDs more strictly,” said Zyterrian Penson, an S.C. State freshman.

Students also expressed safety concerns and said not enough is being done on campus.

“I do feel as if they need to put more emergency boxes out there. Because walking through Hugine, I think you only see about two. They need to put more emergency cameras and I really do think they should have more security guards in the area,” said S.C. State Sophomore Summer Gray.

" If you know that your friends is up to no good and they’re trying to get on this campus, do not let them in. Don’t drive them on here, don’t give them no access, do not switch IDs, because the other students that do go here and are supposed to go here are paying to go here. They are not safe and it’s not fair to the other students. If you see something and you know your friend has ill intentions do say something,” said Keira McGowan, a S.C. State junior.

The university refuted those claims in a statement provided to WIS, the university said it’s installed more than 700 cameras on campus and has also added more call boxes and lighting to improve safety.

S.C. State released a statement on the incident that said:

“South Carolina State University issued a lockdown alert to students and employees on Wednesday, Oct. 18, 2023, at approximately 9 p.m., after Campus Police were notified of a complaint of criminal sexual assault levied by a student in a campus residence hall.

Campus Police lifted the lockdown around 11:30 p.m.

The South Carolina State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) is leading the investigation with the assistance of campus police. Any inquiries regarding the incident should be directed to SLED.

Sonja Bennett-Bellamy, SC State vice president for communications, marketing and strategic alliances, said the administration takes this report seriously and responds to all allegations brought to its attention. The university has a zero-tolerance policy regarding serious criminal acts.

Bennett-Bellamy noted that over the last two years, SC State has implemented numerous initiatives to enhance safety on the campus, including technology and personnel that aid in investigations regarding criminal activity:

  • More than 700 security cameras have been installed on campus.
  • Twenty-seven emergency call boxes have been placed in key locations.
  • A comprehensive lighting improvement program is ongoing.
  • The university is recruiting additional security personnel, including sworn police officers.
  • Additional patrols have been added to monitor the campus perimeter.

The university continues to educate students about best practices for maintaining safety and security both on and off campus. This includes walking in groups after dark, locking residence hall doors and vehicles, locking up valuables in secure locations and making sure all visitors are well known by them.

Students are encouraged to contact Campus Police at 803-378-4754 or dial 911 to report situations of emergency or criminal activity. Campus residents also are encouraged to report complaints to the residence hall supervisory staff.”

WIS asked the university’s campus police for an incident report on the alleged assault and was told the report was not yet finalized.

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