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Campus safety petition emerges after Winthrop University armed robbery

Students are calling for placement of an emergency call box like this one in the area of a recent armed robbery on campus.
Students are calling for placement of an emergency call box like this one in the area of a recent armed robbery on campus. Hannah Strong

The armed robbery of a Winthrop University student on campus last week has prompted student leaders to launch a petition drive for increased safety measures.

The robbery incident behind Margaret Nance residence hall is in the same area as a sexual assault that happened last year. Students have started an online petition asking campus police to install an emergency phone box in the vicinity of the two incidents.

“As concerned students,” the petition states, “we feel that there should be an emergency phone behind or in front of Margaret Nance to ensure the safety of Winthrop’s student body.” The petition had 850 signatures as of Monday evening.

The lastest incident occurred about 10:38 p.m. on Feb. 29, as the victim was walking to her dorm room from the nearby Starbucks. The suspect approached the victim from behind on a bicycle and demanded all her belongs, according to a campus police report.

The victim fought back and threw her wallet and cell phone under a nearby parked vehicle. The suspect then pulled out a handgun and dropped it on the ground causing the magazine clip to fall out, which the victim managed to kick away.

The suspect retrieved the gun, magazine clip and victim’s phone. He then got back on his bicycle and fled the scene.

The student petition says closest emergency phone box to the area is on the far end of the West Center, the building behind Margaret Nance.

Patrols in the area have significantly increased since the robbery, police say. The last armed robbery on campus was in 2007, according to Winthrop assistant chief of police Ken Scoggins .

“I [was] assigned to the parking lot, as well as adjacent buildings for many hours last week,” Scoggins said. Trees were trimmed after the incident to increase visibility and the effectiveness of existing light in the area.

A meeting will be held with university administration to discuss safety issues and the petition.

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