After two shootings, Grambling students push for change, closed campus

As Grambling classes resume, the mood is somber

By: - October 20, 2021 7:00 am
Grambling State University

Grambling State University

Adrian Consonery spent the tail end of homecoming hiding behind a car, listening to gunfire and hoping the sound wasn’t getting closer. 

“We were still listening for the shots, trying to see what direction they were coming through, and everything like that,” Consonery said. “Someone else hopped over the car with me and looked at me in the face and said, ‘He’s right there.’ And I look up and I see that there’s someone laid out in the street, no longer responsive, with bodily fluids leaking in front of them.”

No one was expecting two shootings in one week at Grambling State University, Consonery said. Up until a few days ago, Consonery’s school year had been “almost euphoric, like a utopia year,” he said in an interview Tuesday.

The first shooting happened around 1 a.m. on Oct. 13 in front of the student union, killing one person and injuring three others, including two students. In response, the school brought extra security and law enforcement to campus, Tisha Arnold, director of communications for the university, said. 

Four days later, during homecoming celebrations, a second shooting in the quad area of the campus injured seven and killed one, also around 1 a.m. 

Consonery escaped from the scene unharmed, able to get to his car and drive back to his dorm, where he just sat in the parking lot for a while, processing.  

“This was literally at the point where everything was winding down, everyone is able to relax–because a lot of work went into make sure the week ran smoothly, to where the week was fun for everyone there–and at that moment, everyone is relaxing, everyone is letting their guard down, everything is good, we’re going to be fine, and then this happens,” Consonery said. “And now you have to rush back into that safe mode you were just getting out of.”

Neither of the incidents were caused by university students, prompting Grambling State President Rick Gallot to blame “outsiders” for endangering the campus in a press release published this weekend.

“Our students come here for an education and far too often it’s outsiders who have created these situations that have put life and limb in danger,” Gallot said. “That’s not why we’re here. That’s not what we’re about after 120 years, and so again, our priority is keeping our students safe.”

Cameron Jackson, Grambling’s student government president, also attributed the violence to people who aren’t students in a letter published the day of the second shooting, Oct. 17. 

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“We must also accept that the issues we face with gun violence are non-students who come to our great institution and cause harm to students and other non-students who are casually enjoying themselves,” Jackson wrote. “We must realize that at some point we must stop allowing outside individuals to pass through checkpoints without university clearance.” 

Louisiana law prohibits the carrying of firearms at schools and higher education institutions, as well as at school-sponsored functions, on school buses and within 1,000 feet of school property, with some exceptions. Concealed carry is also banned on college campuses. 

Consonery, a student leader and president of two campus organizations, plans on campaigning for a closed campus–one with more checkpoints for increased security. He’s confident that faculty will recognize the need to limit campus access to students, faculty, alumni and other people associated with the university. 

As someone who has a deep love for his university, Consonery said he hates to see Grambling portrayed in a bad light because of the actions of people who aren’t students. His father is an alumnus, and his family was in town for homecoming, though they were back in their hotel room by the time the gunfire started. 

“When we have outsiders come in, who mean nothing but trouble, who we can’t monitor and we don’t even know that they’re here because they snuck in some type of way,” Consonery said. “We have no way of checking them to make sure they are who they say they are, or anything like that.”

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“That’s not who we are, that’s not who we represent. That’s someone from outside bringing that in to us and that’s not a part of our family.” 

Grambling has put a curfew in place from 9 p.m. to 6:30 a.m., and all campus events have been canceled for the near future while administration decides on the next steps to take. Since Sunday, there’s been a daily prayer session held over Zoom to help students process the shootings. Counseling services have been running around the clock since Wednesday, according to Arnold. 

“It’s really quiet right now. There’s not a lot of activity going on outside,” Arnold said. 

Consonery plans on going back to class Wednesday, though he knows other students have left campus and gone home due to emotional trauma. As a mass communications senior, he doesn’t want anything to stop him from graduation. But for now, safety is a concern. 

“When we go and have fun, my first thought shouldn’t be ‘Is this my last time going out?’”

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Rachel Mipro
Rachel Mipro

Rachel Mipro has previous experience at WBRZ and The Reveille and earned a bachelor’s degree in English from Louisiana State University. At LSU, she worked as an opinion editor for The Reveille and as a nonfiction editor for the university’s creative writing journal. In her free time, she enjoys baking, Netflix and hiking.

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