The footprint of Morgan State University will resemble “less of an open campus” with the addition of 8,000 feet of fencing following a homecoming week shooting that left five people wounded, President David Wilson said Tuesday evening.
The announcement of a security barrier, which would enclose 90% of the campus, came one week after an alarming Oct. 3 shooting incident at the historically Black institution.
“We’re doing this not to keep out our neighbors and community, we’re doing it to keep out the bad actors,” Wilson said at the President’s Fall Town Hall. “We do not want bad actors in our family disrupting our core values. We’re simply extending the security barrier around campus.”
Currently, there is a “Morgan Wall” bordering the west side of campus. With the additional fencing in place, there will be two to three points of entry and exits with security personnel stationed at each point, where people will need to present an ID to enter campus.
The cost of the security plan is more than $22 million.
Violence erupted on the Northeast Baltimore campus shortly before 9:30 p.m. on Oct. 3, leading the university to cancel classes and homecoming events for the week.
The security plan calls for an increased police presence, more cameras and the exploration of adding more blue-light alarm systems and guard booths across campus.
Wilson said that for 24 hours a day, every day, there will be an armed MSU police officer in front of the Thurgood Marshall residence hall, which was near the location of the shooting. Officers will also be located outside on-campus residence halls, in addition to the security guards inside each of the campus buildings.
He also said the university is exploring adding metal detectors at buildings.
Additionally, the university is installing a security booth outside of Thurgood Marshall Dining Hall Wednesday morning. The booth will be manned for “a substantial amount of time.”
Wilson first hinted at the campus change during a speaking engagement Tuesday at The Banner’s iMPACT Maryland conference, where Wilson said he would unveil a plan for the future of the Northeast Baltimore university at the town hall hours later.
Wilson’s comments came just hours before Baltimore Police released new photos and a request to the public for help in identifying the people pictured. The photos show two people — one wearing torn jeans, the other in black pants and both wearing black tops.
Police have not announced any arrests as part of the investigation.
In the town hall, Wilson displayed the photos from Baltimore Police along with the confidential tip line.
“By the end of this town hall, there should be 120 tips,” Wilson said.
At iMPACT Maryland, Wilson went down a list of colleges where shootings have occurred to underscore that gun violence isn’t unique to Morgan State University. Classes were recently canceled at another historically Black university in Maryland, Bowie State University, after two people were shot late Saturday night at the end of a week of homecoming festivities.
Still, colleges like Morgan State have to do more to combat it, Wilson said. The longtime university president said that a less-open campus doesn’t mean he wants to keep every nonstudent off the grounds.
It’s a “message to the bad actors that we don’t want you here,” he said.
Wilson also said universities will have to “think long and hard about having a sworn police force,” a topic that has generated significant debate in Baltimore.
Johns Hopkins University has long worked to create a private police force to patrol its campus as well as surrounding neighborhoods. The university successfully lobbied Maryland lawmakers to approve the initiative and is preparing to hire more police leaders in the coming months.
Meanwhile, some students, faculty and neighbors have organized protests and interrupted university events concerning private policing, which they worry will not have the same accountability and oversight as the Baltimore Police Department. The city’s police force is currently under a federal consent decree for practices that were found to violate city residents’ constitutional rights.
Hopkins leaders recently released a batch of draft policies that, if approved, will govern the private police department’s interactions with the public.