HAMILTON, N.Y. – A New York college president says a campus safety director is on leave while officials review a lockdown prompted by a black student carrying a glue gun for a school project.
He said a student called campus security at around 8 p.m. Monday reporting a “black male” with what appeared to be a gun.
Several students who were on campus during the lockdown told Global News that the information disseminated by the school – including emails and social media alerts – described the suspect as an “active shooter” who was a black male, 6’2”, shirtless and armed.
Freshman and student senator Tolu Emokpae said many rumours began to fly about what was happening during the lockdown.
“We received an alert from the school that said ‘active shooter’ and as you know, the definition of an active shooter is someone who has fired shots. So we were all very worried,” he said.
“It was very unclear from the beginning because there were no [audible] shots in the background, no victims that had been shot, just very unclear,” he said. “Someone had said there were two shooters and one had killed themselves, someone had said the shooter had gone towards off-campus housing. There was a sort of feeling of mass hysteria among the student populous.”
Colgate University sophomore D’Jonitta Cottrell said the incident exposed underlying issue of racism on university campuses in general and hopes change will come from the top down.
“I want administration specifically to start acknowledging the racism and prejudice within their own circles,” she wrote in an email. “If we are an institution led by some individuals with extremely prejudiced beliefs (whether implicit or explicit), how can we expect that the student body will not also reflect that prejudice?”
Casey said the review will examine the role of “profiling” in the response.
The students at the centre of the incident – the one who called police and the one holding the glue gun — have not been identified, but the president said that both have been contacted by the administration.
Multiple attempts to reach the university for details on the campus safety director’s administrative leave and their plans moving forward to address any further racial tensions have not been returned.
– with files from The Associated Press