After Dylan Roof was arrested for allegedly shooting down 9 people in the historic black Charleston church, it was revealed he had originally planned to open fire on a college campus. This incident is being seen as a hate crime against African Americans.
Questions are now being raised regarding how safe students are from hate crimes and racism to gun violence on campuses.
Texas State University Police Department Certified Crime Prevention Specialist, Otto Glenwinkel, said he wanted to reassure students that if a hate crime were to happen on campus, the UPD is ready.
“We get the best training in the world. We’re prepared. All of the officers are issued long rifles. All the officers have heavy body armor. I would like to think that we prepare our officers and that we’re prepared to deal with a situation like that.”
When asked about feeling safe on campus, student Russell Boyd said that although he worries, he believes that UPD will handle the situation as they should.
“As an African American student, because African Americans have a lot of social strife that we go through and a lot of people have a certain attitude towards our community so there is a bit of worry sometimes but overall, I do feel safe on this campus.”
With the new concealed-carry law going into effect, this will allow students to carry handguns on campus – as long as they are concealed and not in sight. Glenwinkel says if a gun is visible, students are urged to call campus police.
Student Debonair Murray said with concealed carry going into effect, the safety he feels on campus decreases. Murray also has his reasons to doubt concealed carry.
“I definitely won’t feel safe. For one, you can’t have weapons and you never know what type of emotions or how the person is feeling. I feel like it’s a really bad move for our campus to have…The events of Charleston happening, the Virginia Columbine, all those incidents – that shows enough in itself that we shouldn’t have campus carry at all.”
Glenwinkel said that with concealed campus carry going into effect, the UPD are “alert trained” which is a national standard for active shooter response.
Although Glenwinkel wishes that classes and background checks to buy a firearm could be more thorough, he said hopes the system “does what it needs to do.”
“I don’t foresee conceal carry being that big a deal. The people that are going through… I don’t see them being people we would have a problem with.”
Boyd does not share the same point of view.
“If it can happen in church, then it can happen on a college campus, and Texas State is very open to the public. Anybody can just walk on and off so I feel something like that can happen.”
Glenwinkel ensured that no serious hate crimes have occurred on campus, but said this does not mean that Texas State isn’t prone to racism.
How should Texas State University approach hate crimes and racism on campus?
Boyd said he believes Texas State should push professors and faculty to not only expose students to what is happening around the world, but also expose students to different cultures.
Murray said that learning about the different cultures could eliminate the “ignorance” and “misunderstanding” students feel towards one another.
“What I think needs to be done is people need to be educated about other cultures because I can never understand how people can be taught to hate something they don’t’ know or understand. Education is the key and learning about other people’s culture, we wouldn’t have so much hate and ignorance.”
Concealed carry is scheduled to go into effect in August 2016. The Texas State NAACP chapter is currently working toward creating an African American studies program for the university.