The DPS gun proposal from last October will be decided on this Monday. Since the proposal was announced, we have witnessed an uncomfortable dichotomy in the student body. On one hand, we’ve seen high-profile opposition, largely from students of color, to the idea of adding guns on campus. On the other hand — we’re not sure, because no one else has really said anything.
There should be a healthy dialogue in the community, as issues that affect the minority community can affect the larger community as well. Even if something seems to only hit a small group of people, eventually the ramifications will extend, directly or indirectly, to you.
To talk about the gun proposal is to talk about topics such as gentrification and the University’s level of transparency. This is much more than whether or not DPS should be further armed. The gun proposal is also an issue of how the University takes feedback on its lack of transparency — considering that the ad hoc Committee has shown arguably less transparency than the Public Safety Review Board, despite being created to bridge the gap from administration to the UR community — and how the school looks at the scope of its power in Rochester.
Even if this particular proposal doesn’t matter to you personally, eventually the hot-button issue will be something that does. How will you know the proper avenues to take to enforce the changes you want to see on campus?
Furthermore, this proposal’s effects would not necessarily end once three officers become armed. The proposal claims that it “logically evolves UR’s Peace Officer program.” Given the current trends (including the arming of additional URMC officers beyond the original 38), it is not unreasonable to expect this to lead to more armed officers in the future. Whether students agree with the armings or not, we all must acknowledge the possibility of a DPS power creep, and what it means for the community.
Arming DPS is just one instance, but it’s representative of a greater trend: the University will not take students seriously if they do not clearly and collectively voice their concerns. The public forum and ad hoc committee were created thanks to student coordination. As a student on this campus, you are affected when the University falls short in things such as its transparency. Whether you agree with the proposal or not, this is a model for how UR will take student complaints into consideration when creating policies.