The recent vandalism-turned-mass shooting threats scribbled on the walls of Fulton Hall last month have caused shockwaves in Salisbury University and the greater Salisbury community.
“Sandy Hook comes to SU kill [racial slur]” was found in a stairwell in the hall, prompting a massive community demonstration and impromptu forum.
Students questioned the administration's failure to alert students to a mass shooting threat as well as the decision not to cancel classes.
But according to many students, this is nothing new. At the forum held in response to the most recent bout of vandalism, many students voiced the fact that this has happened for years.
Since the semester began, at least four incidents of vandalism have occurred in Fulton Hall. The recent developments have students like sophomore Eunice Awuah searching for answers from the administration.
“According to seniors that I've spoken to, this is not the first time it's happened. Some people claim it has been going on for years now, but this school just ignores it,” said Awuah. “You know, kind of like what happened with this one. I didn't even know this was the fourth time this has happened this year.”
To students like Awuah, the administration choosing to hold large events in response to a mass-shooting threat is all wrong.
“They keep holding assemblies, which I feel like it's really dangerous. What is this?” said Awuah. “Being in one place at a time makes it easier for him to kill you all.”
As of Nov. 20, no suspects have been identified.
"I need cameras put in that Fulton hallway now. You won't prevent this incident because it already happened, but it could prevent other incidents from happening," said Fulton student Glory Ngwe.
There are still no cameras in that stairwell. And there are many more locations on campus that have no security camera coverage.
SU President Charles A. Wight assured that more safety measures were being taken, including the installation of new cameras, but there is a growing sentiment that SU is not as safe as the brochures and website would offer.
“I’m not safe at this school,” said Yayé Sy, a biology major at SU, to the Washington Post.
The sentiment has extended beyond Salisbury and down US-13.
A UMES employee tweeted, “Any student out there at Salisbury University that wants to get an education and be celebrated for being black, and don’t have to worry about the racist remarks on your school walls....come to UMES.”
Dr. Maarten Pereboom, dean of the Fulton School, has refuted the idea of the writing on the hall leaving a permanent stain on SU.
“This is so not who we are. I really want to sort of isolate this as an instance of one person seeing fit to violate our walls with really obnoxious, vulgar, racist language that has no place whatsoever in the Fulton School,” Pereboom said before the most recent incident.
“We are fully committed to talking about racism, we're fully committed to talking about all of the big human problems that are out there.”
This is not the first time racist rhetoric or imagery has appeared at Salisbury University. In 2016, shockwaves were sent through the community when it was revealed that the two students responsible for a racist drawing targeting African Americans in the Blackwell Hall Library were black themselves.
Students say that regardless of who the culprit of the most recent crimes are, this is a frightening time.
“It still doesn't make me feel better because like, even if you're a black and you do that, it’s still not okay, you know?” Awuah said. “And it still scares me because now it's like, you never know who it is. It could be like the person next to you, which makes it more nerve-racking.”
School officials have partnered together with the Crime Solvers of the Eastern Shore to offer a reward of up to $1,000 for information leading to arrests and prosecution in the case. Individuals with information are encouraged to contact the Salisbury University Police.
By K.B. MENSAH
Featured image by K.B. Mensah.