Over 30 students gathered with signs outside of Lankford Student Union on Thursday, Feb. 28 protesting recent events regarding campus including the incident involving the Longwood Village and communication to students. Many of the signs were quotes from the recent Student Government Association (SGA) town hall, including “what if someone had died,” “where was our email” and “a threat to one is a threat to all.”
The protest was organized by the Black Student Association (BSA), Student Diversity and Inclusion Council (SDIC) and the Hispanic Latino Association (HLA), according to Maria Reyneso, senior political science major and president of HLA.
“After the (SGA) town hall, we got together and were talking and and we just weren't happy with how things were going,” Reynoso said. “We felt that, you know, the administration, really just didn't understand, kind of impact that not knowing what was going on our own campus (had).”
According to Destanie Smith, junior and the president of BSA, the executive board of BSA had the idea and brought it to a few other diversity groups.
“There was a town hall following up of a young man coming into the village with an AK 47. You know that at the town hall it was supposed to be for students to come voice their opinions and ask questions and they did, but we didn't receive the answers that we wanted to receive. On top of that, we were treated rudely and very disrespectfully,” said Smith.
The protestors met beforehand to make signs and walked out to the steps of Lankford on the Brock Commons side as a group. They stood together and chanted “where was Reveley” before allowing for students to step forward and speak.
“What we want is solid answers, concrete planning and we want to be a part of that,” said Anthony Jackson, communications major sophomore and president of the SDIC. “So let us be a part of that. We want concrete planning. We want to be a part of that so we can be a part of that, and so that we can be accountable for our own safety as well. That’s why we’re out here today.”
Also in attendance in response to the protest was Longwood University Police Department (LUPD) Chief of Police Col. Bob Beach and Assistant Vice President of Communications Matt McWilliams.
“What I see is a great group of individuals who are very brave, to the point they’re not afraid to stand in front of all y’all and let y’all know what they believe in,” said Christaan Oliphant, a senior and one of the protestors. “That’s no disrespect. It’s just about time to go beyond an email to make change…We’re here because ultimately we felt our safety wasn’t taken into consideration.”
Student safety and concerns of safety were repeatedly discussed. Students directly asked Beach, who was present, why they were not notified on Jan. 27 when there was an armed person at Longwood Village.
Patience Barnes, a marketing sophomore, directly asked Beach and the other LUPD officers present if they were trained to handle and active shooter, and why they “didn’t follow protocol.”
In response, Beach said LUPD did follow protocol.
“I looked up Longwood (protocol) and it said you have to lock down campus and notify the students,” said Barnes. “So where was the protocol that you guys followed?”
Beach repeated that protocol was followed.
Smith and Barnes questioned whether the 300 cameras on campus and blue lights were working. They said some did not work and that response times were long for those that did.
“The information you’re conveying here to the population is not true,” Beach said. “All the blue light phones work. We check them every week.”
Barnes asked follow up questions about the frequency of the checks.
“I’ve never seen anybody check the blue light,” Barnes said. “I see everybody there in front of cars though (writing parking tickets).”
“To carry on an argument with you, (in) which you will not listen to or respect what I have to say, means nothing and I should step away from the conversation,” Beach said.
Beach left the conversation and the area shortly thereafter.
Other issues that were discussed were funding of current security cameras, transparency, and the absence of President W. Taylor Reveley IV and Vice President of Student Affairs Tim Pierson.
“So how do we make y’all care,” asked Oliphant. “What do we need to do?”
After Beach left, McWilliams continued to answer questions from the protestors.
McWilliams said that Reveley and Pierson were both out of town on university business but that they did care.
“Going forward, we can do better make you feel like we care,” McWilliams said. "This is something we think about all the time.”
The protest continued until around 6:15 p.m. and had around 75 total observers in addition to the protesters.
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