Tougaloo receives $420,000 for security and mental health care in wake of HBCU bomb threats

Togalo College will receive nearly half a million dollars from the federal government to support campus security and mental health care in the wake of nationwide bombing threats this year targeting historically black colleges and universities.

The funding will come from a US Department of Education initiative called Project SERV, or “School Emergency Response to Violence,” which provides short-term support to educational entities that have experienced a traumatic event.

When the department opened applications in March, it said the grants would range from $50,000 to $150,000, but that Togalo would receive much more — $420,000 — for a year of additional staff.

Shineka Harrison, director of special projects who applied for the grant, said the money will cover two trauma therapists to help students whose mental health has been affected by threats, three security officers to better patrol the campus’s 500 wooded acres and about 20 extensions, making it easier for faculty Spend days for mental health.

Carmen J. Walters answers questions from the public and the media after announcing her appointment as the new president of Tougaloo College during a press conference at Tougaloo’s Woodworth Chapel on Monday, March 18, 2019. attributed to him: Eric J. Shelton, Mississippi Today / Report for America

Carmen Walters, president of Togaloo, said that after seven months, many people on campus are still experiencing “the shock and shock of dealing with bomb threats at 4 a.m., getting up from your sleep, not being able to walk through buildings freely and having everyone say Look for any packaging that seems unfamiliar.

“This is a huge shock to our children and they should not deal with it,” she added.

more than One-third of the country’s 101 university colleges I received bomb threats earlier this year, Including every HBCU in Mississippi except for Coahoma Community College.

To date, Tougaloo is the only HBCU in Mississippi to have received funding. Rust College did not apply, a spokesperson told Mississippi Today. A Jackson State University spokesperson said the school is still working on its implementation with the goal of using the funds to create a “central emergency center” on campus.

Alcorn State University did not respond to Mississippi Today’s request for comment.

Mississippi State University Director of Communications Donnell Maxi told Mississippi Today that a reporter’s inquiry was the first time the university had heard of the program.

“They will look into it,” Maxi wrote in an email.

The FBI has yet to announce any bomb threats arrests though Determine Six “Tech Experts” events as People of Interest in February.

Politico mentioned That the FBI told the House Oversight Committee in March that no arrests had been made due to “attribution challenges” because “some [the threats] It comes from encrypted platforms.”

Read more: JSU chief calls for more HBCU funding in testimony about bomb threats

In recent weeks, Many HBCU leaders, including Walters, publicly criticized the pace of the investigation. She said she was “extremely disappointed” by the lack of updates from the office at a dinner for HBCU chiefs in Washington, D.C. in August, Politico mentioned.

“I am very angry that no one has been brought to justice, but there has been no talk of an investigation at all,” Walters said.

Although Project SERV provides the much-needed funding, Walters handled the application process, calling it a “complete joke,” Politico reported.

Since Politico published its story, Walters said the FBI and the US Department of Justice have conducted a national call to brief HBCU leaders on the investigation.

“I’m not going to repeat it, because it’s their update, but I will say that we were on the call feeling connected and that this is a priority and that they take it very seriously and that’s what we wanted,” she told Mississippi TODAY. .

Walters said the Department of Education provided “exceptional” support to HBCUs this year. She added that she was frustrated with the project SERV grant application process because it seemed unnecessarily competitive.

“When you say, ‘The scholarship process,’ it makes me feel like it’s competitive, that I’m competing with my peers,” she said.

Tougaloo is also in the process of applying for grants to replace keyhole locks on campus housing with scan-and-swipe technology.

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