Bijeta Lamichhane

News Editor

In light of recent bias incidents that have occurred at the College, Campus Council (CC) held a dis- cussion on Oct. 27 regarding stu- dents’ concerns about safety on campus. President Sarah Bolton, Dean of Students Scott Brown, Chief Diversity Equity and In- clusion Officer Ivonne García, Associate Director of Security and Protective Services (SPS) Joe Kirk and Director of SPS Steve Glick were present at the event to answer several questions.

According to Halen Gifford ’21, Chair and Service & Civic En- gagement Representative of CC, the security talk stemmed from a discussion CC had a few weeks ago. During CC’s constituency reports, Annays Yacamán ’22, the organization’s at-large represen- tative, informed the Council that she and her friend, both students of color, were stopped by the Wooster Police Department and SPS in the span of 30 minutes because they “looked suspicious.”

“This led to a larger conversation about a lack of diverse represen- tation in SPS and the importance of making sure students, specifi- cally students of color, felt pro- tected by security, not targeted,” Gifford said. “I also brought up that I had heard reports from students that there

seemed to be an in- creased police pres- ence on Campus (this feeling was echoed by other CC student mem- bers). We started to have a conver- sation about what role Campus Coun- cil could have in addressing this and we came up with the idea of doing a sort of forum.”

The questions at the forum ranged from personal security to overall diversity in campus. Members of CC also emphasized the need of diversifying SPS staff. However, Kirk informed that the number of applicants for SPS has declined over the last six months, because of which diversifying the pool has been a struggle.

Concerns related to Wooster Police Department’s (WPD) pos- sible racial profiling were also addressed at the forum. Yacamán informed SPS about an incident where her black friend was stopped by WPD for sitting in a car because they looked suspicious, was asked questions and had a flashlight shone into the car.

Another issue included secu- rity officers drinking alcohol with students at a house instead of responding to a call.

Kirk addressed these by suggesting that they email SPS in cases where events like this occur. The forum also addressed an increasing number of hate crimes that have been taking place on campus. Glick mentioned that the FBI has been in- volved with the in- cident related to Pa- triot Front stickers (where the group posted hateful stick- ers in different parts of the College). Kirk reminded the students to report any incident that may occur to SPS as soon as possible.
In addition, Brown also men- tioned that the Board had a dis- cussion about safety issues, and that they will find funding to get additional cameras to make the campus safer.
Gifford mentioned that CC was pleased with the discussions that took place at the forum. Whilethe forum was in the works before CC heard what students had to say about SPS at García’s town- hall meeting, the council added relevant questions after hearing the concerns about safety as well.

“I am really glad we chose to do the forum as students brought up concerns we did not originally consider,” Gifford said. “Our goal was to give students an opportu- nity to raise their concerns with SPS and I think that was success- ful. We also wanted students to feel like SPS was hearing their concerns and doing their best to make campus safe.”

After the forum, Kirk men- tioned some changes SPS is work- ing on implementing at the mo- ment. Some of the changes they are working on are updating SPS staff list to include the shifts that they work, including demograph- ics in all of the reports and log- ging information as SPS encoun- ters people and working with Student Government Association (SGA) and CC to identify and cre- ate a student advisory council to look at security and safety issues.