Local universities take precaution in the wake of Charlottesville unrest

By Alexander Muldrow
Baltimore Watchdog Staff Writer

Students on Towson University campus. Photo by Alexander Muldrow

Students on Towson University campus. Photo by Alexander Muldrow

Thirty-nine days after white nationalists gathered to protest the removal of a Robert E. Lee statue from Emancipation Park in Charlottesville, Va., Baltimore area university students say they are taking action to prevent such an event from occurring in this region.

“We have upgraded our security system here at Morgan State University,” said Marcus Bennett, the school’s Student Government Association president. “We have hired a primary level of protection, which is security officers at every portion of campus that gets high traffic, and where a lot of people are housed.”

Bennett added that the historically black institution also has “the ability to have a full police department with 42 sworn police officers.”

Coppin State University SGA President Paris Holmes said his campus is too important to him to allow a white nationalist rally to occur there without a response.

“Our campus is meaningful to us, and has some historical legacy,” Holmes said, adding that if a similar situation occurred on campus he would expect students to come together “to organize themselves and protect their campus, rally, be present, and make just as much noise because at the end of the day this is our campus not theirs.”

“In the aftermath, I would definitely take action… releasing a written letter of how I feel, and how the university as a whole resonates with an event of that nature,” he said.

When white nationalists came together in Charlottesville on Aug. 12, the protest march began in traditional fashion, with supporters waving signs and flags while yelling platitudes and radical views. Then, it quickly turned violent as citizens took a stand against the white nationalists.

UVA currently has about 16,000 undergraduates, and 6,500 graduate and professional students. The riot had a major impact on the university students because Emancipation Park is only three miles away from campus, and that area is popular for college students.

Bennett said MSU’s Student Government Association would not allow a white nationalist protest on campus, and that the group’s goal is to make certain no student feels discriminated against. Morgan State, with about 7,700 students, is located on 143 acres in a residential section of Northeast Baltimore.

“I would make sure that I partner with the president of the university to make sure that there is inclusion,” said Bennett, stressing that the SGA makes great strides in keeping the campus open to all.

Coppin State, also an HBCU, is located in the Northwest section of Baltimore. Its enrollment is about 3,800.

James Mileo, the SGA president at Towson University, was angered by the actions of white nationalists in Charlottesville. He told the media that he refuses to sit idle as his brothers and sisters fight for equality. He added that he has the “power, courage, and ability” to make a change in not only the university or community, but the world.

Mileo already has announced plans to implement a five-step program with SGA to prevent instances of hate at the public university located in Baltimore County with 22,284 students.

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