Sexual assault and rape, on the other hand, are happening here in epidemic proportions, and the University has so far done nothing meaningful about it.
We cannot ignore that policing disproportionately targets black folks and other people of color. Foot patrols are already a problem at Wake Forest University, where black students and faculty describe regular stops and unwarranted questioning by campus police.
This newest push to expand surveillance follows the recent placement of cameras, to the tune of $3,600, to guard over the University’s most notorious racist monument. Also this year, DPS was awarded $60,000 for body cameras, which are already recording and surveilling us, unprovoked, as we go around our daily business.
These cameras were not installed to protect students at a site of violence and danger: Rather, the goal behind both the Silent Sam cameras and the body cams is to intimidate those who would stick their necks out for racial justice, be it by showing up to a march or a protest or by curating monuments to white supremacy.
Surveillance is key to repressing political movements. Given the incredible momentum of last year’s protests around Hurston Hall and Silent Sam and the recent events in Missouri, the University seems to be responding to this success by building up its capacity to surveille and intimidate activists.
Don’t be fooled by appeals to “safety” that make people of color more vulnerable to police harassment and violence, especially when these appeals are motivated by white heteropatriarchal desires to protect white women from predatory black men. We should oppose any increase to police and military groups’ budgets and equipment: Increasing the University’s stockpile of tools and agents of violence will never decrease violence, especially given how policing in this country functions to terrorize people of color.
The Real Silent Sam Coalition