Two forums on campus housing during RNC held to address concern

In response to the petition related to the Republican National Convention (RNC) police officers being housed in university residence halls, university President Barbara Snyder decided to hold two forums for students and faculty to learn more about this issue. These forums took place Wednesday July 6 at noon and Thursday July 7 at 5 p.m., with President Snyder and her leadership team present at both meetings.

In these meetings, attendees were told that there would be 1700 police officers and 200 National Guard officers on campus during the RNC.  Some will be staying in the first year residence halls and others will be staying in the Murray Hill residential area.  The police officers would be required to comply with all university policies and failure to do so would result in their expulsion from campus.

Chris Sheridan, the vice president for Marketing and Communications said “The police who will be staying in university residence halls, will be required when on campus to keep their service weapon in their room with the ammunition and weapon separate and both secured.”  There are also plans to increase campus patrols during this time period.

According to Amanda King, a third-year law student and one of the students who wrote the original petition, the first meeting was more informational, with students trying to figure out the facts of the situation, while in the second meeting it was the students controlling the conversation.  King said that the Thursday meeting was “a reflection of students really knowing the facts and then questioning the faculty of their motivations.”

Bryce Downing, a third-year Political Science major who attended the first meeting, felt that the meeting he attended was ineffective.  He said that “nothing new was proposed and no new information was distributed.” In addition he felt that the questions being asked didn’t pertain to the matter at hand.

At the Thursday meeting, however,  King and the other petitioners such as Makela Hayford felt that something had been accomplished. Hayford, a fourth-year Sociology major, asked President Snyder to speak to the mayor of Cleveland on behalf of the campus and request the weapons the officers would be carrying to be stored off campus.

“I was the one who asked about the guns and restricting them on campus,” Hayford commented. “When she said that she would, it was my first indication that she took us seriously.”

Will Oldham, a fourth-year Sociology and English double major said that the meetings were effective for some, but it depended on what the goal of the individual was.  He explained “there are certainly new things happening now in terms of counseling and housing options, but the core issue or circumstances didn’t change from these two forums.”

King felt that this meeting “was an important moment for diversity and inclusion on our campus.”  She said that while the petition writers were being heard at the meeting, administration was only listening after being consistently questioned by the students.  She said that the meetings “showed how much more work we have to do.”