Students criticized the latest set of Eastman security updates and Public Safety’s proposal to arm one officer per shift at Eastman in a discussion at an SA town hall meeting.
The discussion took place Wednesday at Dean’s Dining, and continued long past the meeting’s official end.
Junior Jonathan Rhodes was first to speak on the security updates. He shared his experience with the new policy on identification presentation, which requires members of the University community to “be prepared to present UR identification at the Lowry Hall Public Safety desk.”
On Monday Feb. 18, the policy’s first day in action, Rhodes says he was stopped by a Public Safety officer for not presenting his ID.
White students passed by Rhodes without showing their IDs at the Lowry Hall front desk, he said, or were asked for their identification in a calm, kind manner.
“I was darker than [the girl walking in front of me],” Rhodes said. “They gave her the benefit of the doubt and I didn’t get that.”
Student raised concerns about the new policy’s ambiguity on when a community member will be required to show identification, which some fear leaves the decision to the discretion of Public Safety officers.
SA President and junior Henry Carpender, who headed the town hall meeting, indicated that he was in favor of amending the policy. “The policy, the way it is currently worded leaves […] room for inherent bias,” he said. “[The policy] needs to be all or nothing — in my view it should be all.”
Regarding the Public Safety proposal, attendees suggested altering the Public Safety proposal so that Eastman and River campuses are evaluated separately because of their differences in size and demographics. The current proposal includes recommendations for both campuses.
“The struggles of an Eastman student are different than the struggles of a River Campus student,” sophomore Deepti Kumar said. She went on to express her concern that minority students at Eastman would have less of a say because they do not make up as significant a percentage of students. Underrepresented minority students comprise 8.9 percent of Eastman undergraduates, and 12.2 percent of River undergraduates, according to the Student Diversity dashboard.
“[The] numerical content of each race is extremely different [on the two campuses],” she said. “This poses a difference in how we should be viewing this issue […] I’m saying this as someone who feels like a very minority person at Eastman.”
For junior and SA Diversity chair Dalanie Harris, the “numbers, not demographics” are what concern her. Looking over the proposal, she questions the use of large universities like UCLA as models for how things could be at a comparatively smaller school like Eastman.
Neither Harris, Kumar, nor Rhodes are in favor of arming a DPS officer at Eastman.
“Although I do not believe our DPS officers have malicious intent, we cannot ignore the fact that […] for people of color, a person in uniform with a gun is the epitome of a threat.” Harris said, adding, “If the main question is whether or not arming DPS officers would make students feel safer, my answer is no.”