NCCU students, administrators address campus safety, other issues
N.C. Central University Police Chief Timothy Bellamy stood in front of about 50 students Wednesday night and talked about the danger that comes with inviting strangers to campus.
Since the beginning of the spring semester, Bellamy said five students were robbed of their cell phones and the campus sent out crime alerts. A NCCU police officer was sent to Duke Hospital this week after a non-student jumped him and broke his leg. The campus was locked down twice last fall, putting NCCU in the negative international spotlight.
“The people that we allow on campus and what we allow ourselves to become victims of is causing problems for the reputation of NCCU,” Bellamy said.
Wednesday night’s “Hash it Out” forum was organized by the Student Government Association and gave students a venue to voice their concerns to NCCU administrators and staff, such as Bellamy, library services Director Theodosia Shields and Timothy Moore, director of business and auxiliary services.
Bellamy said students inviting strangers back to campus and residence halls has resulted in fights, drugs such as cocaine and marijuana, and thefts of student belongings at the university.
Bellamy said there are police officers dressed in plain clothes that patrol campus at night to blend in with students, and they monitor unfamiliar faces roaming university grounds.
“It’s happening, y’all, it’s for real,” he said. “So what I’m saying is don’t bring strangers to campus, OK? ... We have some good students here at Central, but it’s only a small amount who are doing some things that make it all look bad for everyone.”
NCCU was locked down Sept. 23 after NCCU police shot and killed a non-student gunman on the run after an armed robbery and break-in that occurred earlier that day. The gunman had fired a shotgun at the officers in the woods near the School of Education. The campus was again locked down Nov. 21 after a non-student fled into the Mary Townes Science Building to escape gunshots.
Brent Lewis, the community director for Ruffin and Eagle Landing residence halls, said all students on campus are held accountable to help keep campus safe.
“When you see people coming into the building behind you that you don’t recognize, I need you to say something,” Lewis said.
Student Body Vice President Norman Jones took the microphone, helping to moderate the discussion.
“We are a family and we want to look out for one another,” he said.
In other news, students talked about the difficulties of finding parking on campus and in the 2-hour-limit neighborhood parking spots controlled by the city.
Bellamy said the university recently paid a consultant to complete a parking study, which is going to be reviewed at the next Board of Trustees meeting Feb. 25 and 26.
He added that the NCCU Police Department Traffic Office in the past recommended instituting zone parking or hourly parking on campus to help with congestion, but that recommendation was met with resistance. The study about to be reviewed by campus administrators and trustees makes the same recommendation.
N.C. Central is not planning to build another parking deck in the immediate future, he said.
Campus dining options also were discussed Wednesday night. Students brought up concerns regarding the lack of vegetarian and fruit options, as well as the possibility of adding more variety to the longtime NCCU tradition, Chicken Wednesday.
“This is one of the things that really grinds my gears on this campus,” said NCCU sophomore Deron Perkins. “I don’t eat meat. When we finally get some good vegetables, they like to sprinkle bacon on it.”
Shelita Nelson, the general manager of NCCU Dining Services, addressed the audience, saying the cafeteria does offer a vegan option every day and the staff has to adhere to strict caloric guidelines.
Dining Services has an advisory board that invites students to participate as well as comment cards that people can fill out.
“We can’t fix what we don’t know is broken,” Nelson said.