Homecoming for Florida A&M University is a time of excitement. It’s a time when alumni and families come back to reminisce on the times they spent on their beloved Hill. This year, for many, it was a time of mourning.
Construction engineering technology student Quinton Langford, 20, was killed by gunfire early Saturday morning after he left a house party.
In addition to Langford, his friend Landsay Ellison was also shot and taken to the hospital in critical condition.
The Plant City resident is but one in a growing list of students killed by gunfire. According to Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund, an organization dedicated to understanding and reducing gun violence in America, there have been 199 school shootings since 2013—an average of nearly one every week.
Shootings are nothing new to college students. It is something relatively expected when we head to house parties off campus. It is relatively expected when attending clubs. During this year’s homecoming alone, two other people were shot near campus after leaving parties.
What is never expected is for a victim’s name to be one you are familiar with.
The shooting of Quinton hit too close to home for many. He was more than a white student attending a historically black university, he was an engineering student with a future lined in internships. He was a classmate, a roommate, a friend.
At what point do we get fed up with gun violence? At what point do we hold each other accountable for the shootings that keep happening—or are they only significant if it’s a police officer pulling the trigger? And when does our student leaders and university step in and stand up to say it’s not okay?
FAMU must take a stance on gun violence. Although it is impossible to control what happens once students venture off campus, the dialogue can be made while students are on campus.
North Carolina A&T State University had a similar shooting at the beginning of October, in which two students died as a result of gunfire after a house party. As a result, residential halls on the campus held safety meetings for the students leading up to their Homecoming.
In response to the 2015 Strozier Library shooting at Florida State, the university community held town halls to discuss the incident.
Vigils and discussions aren’t enough. We have to move from looking at the what in situations to the why. We have to better prepare our students for moments like these. We have to not only offer counseling and mental health awareness, but bring it to students in places like their classrooms, their residence halls, and in their clubs and organizations.
The university and our student leaders have to truly build up the campus community and surrounding community to push out violence, to make it known that FAMU and our Rattlers don’t and won’t tolerate gun violence.