The sun was still up on a Tuesday evening in September when a Florida A&M University senior, Ursual Ible, was walking to her car that was parked in a campus parking lot at the end of a long day of classes as she always does.
When Ible sat down in her car a gunman pointed a weapon at her and demanded that she move to the passenger’s seat. He entered the driver’s side and seemingly tried to kidnap her.
“I was able to jump out the car and run to save my life. He got away with my car and my wallet,” Ible said in a Facebook post detailing the incident.
Violent crimes on FAMU’s campus this semester have students questioning campus safety.
Between Aug. 26 and Oct. 4, the number of reported crimes on campus had reached nearly 80 including sexual assault, carjacking, robbery and public shootings.
Colleges and universities are required to log all crime on and around campuses under the Clery Act. The most recent Clery Report for FAMU was published on Oct. 6. The report shows that at least 77 crimes have happened since the beginning of the semester.
“It’s not safe to say that FAMU has had a large increase with violent acts,” said Terrence Calloway, Chief of FAMU Police Department. “But that the area around us may or may not have.”
Calloway said he has restructured the police department, dividing officers into separate units to prevent crime.
“Why take a group of people and allow them to do crime prevention when your entire police department should be responsible for crime prevention?” said Calloway, explaining the way he reorganized the department.
FAMU PD is pushing several options to ensure students feel safe on campus, including the new Thumb Alert mobile app and the use of student patrol officers.
“Each officer is supposed to go out to speak to students and talk about safety,” Calloway said.
For Ible, campus safety was not something she had thought much of until the gunman took her car.
“Honestly prior to my incident, I never perceived campus safety at all. Partly because I didn’t feel like it was something made readily available to students,” Ible said. “There is a lack of awareness in the programs FAMU PD may or may not have available for the campus.”
Khala Adams, a senior political science student at FAMU, said she believes the “dynamic of campus has drastically changed” since 2011.
“I remember walking around the entire campus at night around 2 a.m. by myself during my freshman year,” said Adams, Accokeek, Md. “I don’t even feel comfortable walking through the parking lots.”
Ible said her routine has changed since the carjacking. She parks in a different portion of the campus and has limited how far she is willing to go on campus. Her car was found 15 days after the carjacking.
“Now I am more precautious of where I walk even in broad daylight,” Ible said. “I think the campus needs to be more proactive instead of reactive with these types of incidents.”