Thursday, March 4, 2010

UPDATE: University Community Forum on March 2

To: Members of the University Community

From: Kimberly Goff-Crews, Vice President for Campus Life and Dean of Students in the University

Date: March 4, 2010

Re: Update on the Community Forum, March 2, 2010
I am writing to update you on continuing dialogue and actions following the arrest last week of a student in the Regenstein Library.

First, I appreciate the large number of students, faculty, and staff who turned out for Tuesday evening’s forum. I want to acknowledge the deep feelings many of you expressed; my colleagues and I take your concerns seriously. I am grateful for your time, your commitment, and your many thoughtful comments. I also appreciate the open and honest participation of my colleagues who represented the different units of the University involved in the incident.

Because many members of our community were unable to attend, I would like to share some of the feedback we received, the concrete actions that have already been taken, and actions Campus and Student Life, the University of Chicago Police Department (UCPD), and the University Library will be taking as we move forward.

  1. A number of separate and specific questions were raised Tuesday night that will be important for students to examine in partnership with University administrators. These concerns include University policy and practice regarding the request to show University ID, how and when the UCPD engages the Dean-on-Call to support students, UCPD relations with students and community members, and legal support for students within the University. I will work with student leadership to identify a group of students to work with administrators to examine these issues and be involved in developing recommendations for policy and procedural changes.

  2. During the discussion, we confirmed that University policy requires that a student or other member of the University community is required to show University identification to any University official upon request. A statement to this effect is printed on the back of the University identification card issued to faculty, staff and students. The policy may also be found in the Student Manual. Campus and Student Life will work to make sure that through orientation and other channels, new members of our community are made aware of the policy. We will also work with administrators across campus to ensure that appropriate protocols are in place so that staff members identify themselves when seeking identification.

  3. Campus and Student Life will extend its outreach and education about resources available to members of the campus community, including the Dean-on-Call program, Bias Response Team, and other resources. A more comprehensive list can be found online at

  4. Jim Vaughan, Assistant Director for Access and Facilities for the University Library, reported that the Library is undertaking an investigation of its policies and practices regarding behavior in the Library as well as the responses of the Library staff involved in the incident.

  5. Library leadership has also agreed to examine with students what constitutes appropriate behavior in the Library, including the A-Level of the Regenstein Library, and the protocol for dealing with disruptions in the Library.

  6. Chief of Police Marlon Lynch stated that the UCPD is conducting an internal investigation of the arrest and will interview all students who were involved or witnessed the incident. He is committed to ensuring the investigation will go as quickly as the students can be interviewed. I understand that at least one-third of the students identified as witnesses have already been interviewed; I strongly encourage all other students to work with the UCPD to facilitate the investigation’s timely completion. If you were a witness and have not been contacted, please contact Capt. Kelvin Pope at 773-702-8190. As is customary while an investigation is underway, the arresting officer has been assigned to other duties that do not involve patrol.

  7. Chief Lynch has assigned Lieutenant JoCathy Roberts to work directly with the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs staff as a liaison between students of color and the police. He also agreed to hold regular meetings with students of color, and said he will look for new ways to include student input into significant police issues.
While these are some of the important outcomes so far, please understand that this summary does not include every item, and that our conversations continue. Chief Lynch, Mr. Vaughan, and I have agreed that when the internal investigations are completed, we will follow up with students to share appropriate information.

The student arrest and the concerns raised by students and others in its aftermath are complicated and emotional, and the process will continue to be challenging. We are working through differing perspectives and reactions to what occurred, and what actions will be needed moving forward. We recognize that continued dialogue will be essential as we attend to the important work ahead.