VSU President Responds To Recent Tragedies

Dear Trojans,

The tragedies that claimed the lives of two of our Trojans over the past few weeks have left many of us processing an abundance of emotions. The deaths of Matthew Gibbs and Adrionna West deeply impacted our Trojan community. While these deaths did not happen on our campus, we are no less saddened and angered by the senseless gun violence that stole two promising young scholars who were also members of our Trojan family.

However, we know that being angry is not enough. Therefore, we are working to take clear and decisive steps to make our campus and surrounding community safe spaces for our Trojans. While we are grateful that Petersburg Police moved swiftly to make arrests in these cases, we know that prevention is critical. This week, my administration and I met with Petersburg City Officials to discuss our unified safety approach. Effective immediately, we will begin the below additional safety measures:

  • VSU Police will meet daily with Petersburg Police to share intelligence and inform our VSU community of any activity/crimes that may impact our students.
  • VSU Police and Petersburg Police will continue to patrol the Petersburg apartment complexes where our students have been assigned.
  • Police from VSU, Colonial Heights, Chesterfield, and a private security company will continue to monitor area hotels where our students have been assigned.
  • VSU Police will be called to the scene of any incident in Petersburg that involves any VSU student.
  • VSU Police will be alerted to any large gathering of VSU students in Petersburg (including parties).

We continue to assess our current on-campus safety measures. For your on-campus safety:

  • We have more than 1,200 HD monitored cameras around campus.
  • We have state-of-the-art mobile camera systems that can deployed to various areas of campus.
  • License plate readers with video cameras are located at campus entryways and exits.
  • We have hired a private company to provide additional security in our residence halls.
  • We will continue to perform unannounced safety sweeps inside campus residence halls.
  • Security personnel and VSU police officers will maintain a strong presence on campus and at off-campus VSU-assigned housing.
  • We strongly urge students to refrain from attending large off-campus gatherings/parties. VSU does NOT sanction these.
  • We strongly urge you to attend on-campus social gatherings only.

We remain dedicated to providing our Trojan Family a safe and secure environment. While we work to do our part, we cannot guarantee protection against all unknowns. That is why we ask that you partner with us to prioritize safety on and off campus. Remember, safety is a shared responsibility. EVERY individual plays a critical role in protecting their safety as well as the safety of others. If you notice any suspicious or criminal activities or other emergencies on or off campus, report them to the Virginia State University Police Department at (804) 524-5411 (or call 911 if you are off campus).

For those who may need assistance as they process these tragic events, our University Counseling Center (804-524-5939 or 804-524-5411) is available to students. Resources have also been made available to our employees.

We will forever remember our fallen Trojans and continue to pray for all who loved them.

Makola M. Abdullah, Ph.D.