Diversity at Jackson State University took a hit recently when the school lost 27 Brazilian students, whose consulate withdrew them after a series of thefts.
Photo by Trip Burns.
Over the weekend, 27 students from Brazil withdrew from Jackson State University following three incidents dating back to the summer in which the students were victims of crime.
The most recent incident happened the evening of Nov. 9, when a male student says he was robbed at gunpoint as he was leaving the campus cafeteria. The student, who asked that his name not be printed, said two male assailants, each brandishing a handgun, demanded money, but the student didn't have any.
"I (didn't) feel comfortable walking alone," the student told the Jackson Free Press.
He and his fellow Brazilian students were at Jackson State as part of a science, technology, engineering and math development program sponsored by Brazil's government, but were not enrolled in the university. Apparently, the attempted armed robbery was the final straw, and the consulate decided late last week to pull the students out of JSU and move them to another school in the southeast.
Another student said that on Nov. 8 his backpack bag that contained his cell phone, dorm keys and a favorite sweater disappeared while he played volleyball at the recreation center. The student, who asked to be identified only by his first name, Joao Pedro, said he reported the theft to campus police, but he never got his stuff back; he also contacted the consulate.
Even though it was the only time he had ever had anything stolen while attending the school, Joao Pedro said his confidence was shattered.
"It became clear that we couldn't walk the university alone," he said.
The first incident happened over the summer, when a student named Brenda said she was leaving the cafeteria after breakfast and a man snatched her iPhone and ran away.
"It's really emotional," Brenda said.
Several students who spoke with the JFP believed insufficient lighting outside of the cafeteria was partly to blame. Eric Stringfellow, executive director for JSU communications, said Tuesday night that problem has been addressed.
Jackson State boasts that more than 90 countries are represented among students and faculty members. Information from the university also shows that the university has 280 international students from 60 countries studying at Jackson State.
Julio Del Castillo, president of the Latin American Business Association, said the incidents are a black eye to JSU and to Jackson but that he also doesn't believes the robberies are part of a pattern.
"Latinos, African Americans, Indians and whites, in my experience get along really well ... Hopefully this incident will not affect the city as narrative," Del Castillo told the Jackson Free Press today.
Jackson State University president Carolyn W. Meyers issued a statement to news media this afternoon:
“Jackson State University is concerned with the safety of all of our students, domestic and foreign. As in any urban area, unfortunately there are random acts of violence, sometimes against our students. Please be assured that the university is doing all we can to assure the safety of all on our campus for any purpose at any time.
"I personally review the daily incident reports, and the university regularly reviews the effectiveness of our safety efforts, the actions of our personnel and safety procedures and protocols. To our knowledge and records, the incidents involving the students visiting from Brazil were random, which does not make these incidents acceptable, nor are they indicative of our campus environment.”