Livingstone College President Dr. Anthony J. Davis experienced the fiscal and logistical realities of being in charge of an HBCU homecoming last October.
Less than a month into his tenure as the school’s 13th president, a shooting occurred on Salisbury, NC campus in the overnight of Saturday evening that involved two non-students.
It was a somber reminder of the realities facing institutions of higher learning in the post-COVID world where gun violence is a real threat more often than not.
“Reality sinks in that we don’t operate in isolation, we’re plagued by the same violence that hits our city streets every day. We’re plagued by gun violence, which is a national pandemic. And we talk about emerging from COVID. We’ve yet to deal with the national pandemic of senseless gun violence that really impacts our community,” Dr. Davis told HBCU Gameday. “But my students don’t deserve to be held hostage. They deserve to have a great homecoming experience, safe and without incident.”
As the school prepares for its second homecoming under Dr. Davis, it is making a change to how people access the campus on Saturday, October 21.
“So this year, we decided to take advantage of our gated community and say — number one — in order to get on our campus. One of the first things that you have to do is you have to a) go through metal detectors. There will only be two entry points. Everyone will have to go through metal detectors and there will be a clear bag policy because we’re going to make sure everyone is safe.”
Everyone who gets on the campus on Saturday will have the ability to watch Livingstone College take on Shaw University in its homecoming game — or not.
“And then we ask everyone to invest the economic model by paying $30,” Davis continued. “They get all pre-game activities. They get to go to the game. They also have the opportunity to have the post-game activities. We’re going to do a celebration for hip hop. We will bring in legendary rap artists, Kool Moe Dee and friends, and then we will end the night with Da Baby — all on the campus of Livingstone College for $30.”
While everyone won’t go into the game or might want to see Da Baby but not Kool Mo Dee, Davis believes this new policy will help provide a better experience for all involved — including the school’s students. Davis says in years past the budget may not have allowed for the type of entertainment his students wanted on their campus.
“I said, my students deserve the best if they’re spending $26,000 to come to Livingstone and paying through activity fees. As a leader who cares about his students, I want them to have a great homecoming experience,” he said. “I don’t want to give them cause to go another HBCU because we’re bringing this type of limiting entertainment to their campus. And we’re going to execute it as safe as possible, and we’re going to make sure that everyone invests in the economic model to move us from surviving to thriving.”