Tomorrow UNC Police Chief David Perry will begin his third week on the job. His primary responsibility is to ensure the safety of students and other members of the University community. To accomplish this, it is important that Perry listen to the concerns of student leaders and maintain open lines of communication with a wide swath of campus.
So far, Perry has performed his duties without major controversy. However, Perry must be proactive in restoring trust in campus police forces as we move into the first academic year since the complete removal of the Silent Sam statue (and the second since the of the undercover campus police officer that spied on students).
At the beginning of the month, Perry met with the Campus Safety Commission — a group of students, faculty and staff assembled by interim Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz to address the fractious relationship between the campus community and police. While the Editorial Board commends Perry’s frankness during his visit with members of the commission, these meetings are not enough to repair the damage done over the previous two years. The commission includes a limited number of students representing only a small percentage of campus.
To more effectively serve the University, Perry must hold regular conversations with student leaders from a diverse cross section of campus. This includes leaders in the Campus Y, Residence Hall Association and Undergraduate Executive Branch and Senate.
The Campus Y, with a mission “to engage students, the UNC campus and communities in the pursuit of social justice,” should be a frequent destination for Perry. Its leaders are most connected to student activists, and many of its members were intimately involved in the fight against Silent Sam. Courtney Staton, a 2019 graduate and Campus Y Co-President during the 2017-2018 academic year, was the lead producer of the student documentary “Silence Sam.” She is one such example. Last year, The Daily Tar Heel reported on Staton’s intention of “holding the University accountable for supporting students’ sense of safety.”