To Faculty, Staff, and Students,
The Task Force on Campus Safety and Security working since January to review current policing practices at Clark, explore alternative policing models, and engage the University community in dialogue and assessment of new ideas has now completed and presented its report to me. The report includes ten recommendations.
I encourage you to read the task force’s report (attached and viewable online). I fully embrace its recommendations and am committed to implementing them as quickly as possible.
Here, I share some highlights:
Engagement and Assessment
The Task Force broadly engaged the University community in a number of ways, including through a University-wide listening session, four open virtual sessions, and a survey soliciting feedback on draft recommendations. The feedback from the 1,183 community members, including 594 undergraduate students, informed the Task Force’s final report.
As the Task Force conducted its assessment and considered options, they worked toward three primary objectives which evolved through their early engagement efforts:
- Increase the feeling and reality of safety for all members of our community.
- Minimize the need to have local or state police agency presence on campus.
- Ensure that the campus response to incidents is appropriate.
The Task Force identified a number of specific action steps related to University Police:
- Reduce the presence of armed officers in public and residential spaces on campus, including the relocation of the Clark University Police Department to the periphery of campus and establishment of a community-service civilian unit to respond to service calls not requiring an armed uniformed police officer.
- Develop mechanisms for increased accountability and transparency related to policing, including the creation of a multi-constituency advisory board to monitor and oversee implementation of the Task Force’s report.
- Strengthen relationships between Clark University Police, students, faculty, and staff.
Again, I direct you to the Task Force report for the complete set of recommendations, as well as details regarding implementation.
Disarming Clark University Police
The Task Force gave specific focus to the issue of disarming the Clark University Police. This has been a key concern, especially among our BIPOC students, and rightfully deserves attention and consideration. The Task Force determined that if the Clark University Police were to be disarmed or replaced with an unarmed security unit, we still could experience incidents that required a more substantial response and we would not have the resources to do so quickly and effectively. Therefore, the Task Force has recommended specific ways in which the Clark University Police presence can be better channeled. I agree with this approach. Ultimately, it will ensure that we fulfill our very serious responsibility to maintain safety and security while doing so in a way that is sensitive and responsive to our students.
First, I want to thank the Task Force for dedicating so much time and energy to this important work. It has required a substantial commitment and I know from my own interaction with the group how seriously they have taken their responsibility. The Task Force has produced a comprehensive roadmap for moving forward, with sensitivity and care in considering the concerns that have been raised by our students.
Second, as we move forward in implementing the Task Force’s recommendations, we will update the University community on our progress and further plans for enhancing campus safety and security. You also will be able to monitor the status of this work on our diversity and inclusion initiatives website.
I greatly appreciate and thank all members of our community for their engagement in this effort.
David B. Fithian ‘87
Members of the Task Force on Campus Safety and Security
Chair: Danielle Manning, Executive Vice President and CFO
Nassim Ali Ahman ’22, Student Representative
Kamryn Barrows ’22, Student Representative
Patrick Derr, Professor of Philosophy
Benjamin Gardner, Associate Director of Community Engagement and Volunteering
Caleb Gibson ’22, Student Representative
Tony Penny, Business and Auxiliary Services Manager
Laura Robinson, University Librarian
Laurie Ross, Professor of Community Development and Planning, IDCE
Grace Williams ’23, Student Representative
Peyton Wu, Director of Multicultural and First Generation Student Support
Mikayla Wynter, Director of Diversity Programming and Multicultural Counseling