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The Daily Tar Heel

Don’t remain silent: Student government should attend police forums

Student government officials need to make every effort to attend Chapel Hill Police Department community feedback forums.

Student Body President Jasmin Jones’ administration hasn’t sent a representative to the three forums the police have held so far, even though Bob Overton, assistant chief of police, said the department invited Jones.

There’s still one left, and student government needs to send somebody Thursday.

Student Body Vice President David Bevevino said Friday that he thought the police feedback forums are a great idea.

He said the administration regularly talks with the police department; thus, missing one forum isn’t the end of the world. He also said it’s difficult to work around student officials’ scheduling conflicts.

That’s valid. But students need representation at these forums, not so much for the police department’s benefit but for the residents’.

At the Feb. 9 forum, residents voiced concerns about large parties that students host in residential communities. They also brought up the idea of the police getting involved in new student orientation so that the department could inform new students efficiently.

These aren’t just police department issues. These are issues of residents’ perception of students. And student government needs to be aware of those perceptions.

We agree. But student government needs to show town residents that students care about their relationship. That’s not apparent when student government doesn’t send a representative to a police department feedback forum.

Plus, student government could act on some of the residents’ ideas. For example, it could look into police presentations on respecting residents at orientation. And it would be helpful to the student-resident relationship if the residents saw student government acting on their concerns.

It’s understandable that student government officials have full schedules. And student government already communicates consistently with the Chapel Hill Police Department.

But student leaders need to work on government’s relationship with town residents, not just officials.

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