Accuracy • Independence • Integrity

October 27, 2016   |   Ithaca, NY


Editorial: Public Safety work group shows mediocre progress

It’s easy to look at a list of plans and accomplishments at a single point in time and think that good progress is being made. But when that point in time is four months and 10 meetings from the beginning, we must put “progress” into perspective.

The Office of Residential Life and the Office of Public Safety and Emergency Management work group was formed in October 2015. President Tom Rochon announced the creation of a community review board in September 2015. The work group just presented a draft of policies for the community review board at its February meeting — its tenth meeting.

The board will look at complaints about Public Safety and decide whether and how they will be investigated, according to Roger Richardson, associate provost of diversity, inclusion and engagement and interim chief diversity officer. Even so, the intended membership of the board is being kept frustratingly vague by the work group. All we know is that voting members will be selected, and Public Safety representatives will serve as nonvoting members. There is no indication of what other community members may be on this self-selected community review board.

After meeting eight times in the fall for one hour each, and now twice this spring, the only other noticeable accomplishment was adding a diversity education component to the January resident assistant training. Let’s not forget, though, that the RAs protested in September about the Public Safety Officers’ alleged racial profiling of students, not their own.

The rest, that we know of, are hardly concrete. The work group is planning for more teamwork between Residential Life and Public Safety for the August 2016 RA training program. The group is still creating FAQs on language and cultural competency for freshman orientations.

All of these are steps in the right direction. But a community review board is something the campus has needed for several months now, and it has taken more than nine meetings to even draft a setup for it. What sort of forward-thinking discussions they could have been having during all this time is an utter mystery.