Interim Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz named the members of the new Campus Safety Commission, which will investigate all aspects of campus safety, and announced the hire of an outside consultant to review multiple incidents on campus over the past months in an email statement on Monday.
“The commission will serve as advisors who provide vision and guidance about campus policing policies, practices, and related actions to the University,” Guskiewicz said in the email.
The commission, initially announced on March 22, will also facilitate discussion with the UNC community regarding the roles and expectations of the relationship between the community and campus police. The first meeting will be held in early May, according to the email.
Kim Strom-Gottfried, one of the commission members and the director of the University’s Office of Ethics Education and Policy Management, said the rebuilding of trust between public safety officials and campus activists is vital to maintaining a safe campus that is supportive of free speech.
“I think that we recognize that we’re all part of this community, and we need to have it be a safe and trusting place for all segments of the community,” Strom-Gottfried said. “And so I think this group will help look at these issues through different lenses.”
The 20 commission members represent a broad spectrum of the UNC community, including undergraduate and graduate students, professors, the dean of the students and a former Chapel Hill Police chief, among others.
All appointments will be for two academic years, and all appointments are eligible for two terms of reappointment, according to the email. More appointments may be added in the future.
The University has also retained Chris Swecker, attorney and former FBI assistant director, as an outside consult to conduct a review into several incidents on campus, according to UNC Media Relations.
The Chancellor’s announcement on Monday came amid growing concerns over the state of campus safety and increased scrutiny of campus police.
Earlier this week, professor Jay Smith created a petition, signed by more than 100 UNC faculty members, calling for a public investigation into several events on campus that have sparked questions over campus policing.
On March 16, some members of the Heirs of Confederacy group carried firearms on campus, and no arrests were made. Weeks later, members of the same group vandalized the Unsung Founders’ Memorial. Lindsay Ayling and Maya Little, two anti-Silent Sam activists, said on Twitter that the graffiti called them out by name.
At a meeting on Monday, the Faculty Executive Committee discussed the petition and passed a resolution stating their support for the Chancellor’s initiative and requesting updates on the independent review.
Mark Porlides, history graduate student and anti-Silent Sam activist, said he thinks the commission needs to include activists who have been directly involved with protests in its membership.
“I fear that the thrust of this body will be looking at protesters, and sort of putting the burden on protesters to make things better,” Porlides said.
De’Ivyion Drew, first-year student and commission member, said she sees her role on the commission as more than just a chance to express her own thoughts on campus safety, but as an opportunity to represent a larger group of voices at UNC.
“I, as the undergraduate student, do not see just me, De’Ivyion Drew, as a member of the commission,"Drew said. "I see myself as a representative of multiple people, specifically the marginalized and people of color on this campus. I do not speak for myself. I speak for a collective of people, and with that, comes a great weight."
Going forward, Drew said she thinks the commission will have to reimagine a new system of security and power to implement substantive change on campus.
“I would like to see UNC Police completely abolished from campus,” Drew said. “Historically and now, they have repeatedly abused their power against students, which is the very constituency that they are in contract to protect. I believe that due to irreconcilable differences that they must be abolished, and that a new alternative, community-oriented – not a police force – but an accountability force will have to be placed.”
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