Student leaders address racial profiling, discuss respective updates

At its meeting on March 22, the Student President’s Roundtable (SPR) addressed the prevalence of racial profiling in the overall community and provided updates regarding campus organizations, which concerned upcoming events and changes in various executive boards.

SPR kicked off the meeting with the announcement of a finalized logo for Legacy Week.

Legacy Week, which will occur in April, is intended to honor the “federation between Case Institute of Technology and Western Reserve University,” according to University Program Board (UPB) President Mena Vij. It is seen as a week where students can feel accepted as who they are, and its logo celebrates the official federation between the universities.

After addressing the Student Executive Council’s (SEC) internal concerns, an issue concerning racial profiling was brought to the table.

Earlier this month, Cleveland City Councilman Kevin Conwell was stopped by university police officers and asked to provide identification after a student reported suspicious activity in front of the Peter B. Lewis Building. While Conwell matched the student’s description, he believes to have been racially profiled.

Even though Chief of Police Jay Hodge did not consider the incident to qualify as racial profiling, SPR’s discussion focused on the issue nonetheless because of the widespread concern it sparked on campus. President Barbara Snyder publicly apologized to Conwell on the behalf of the campus police, but former African American Student Association (AASA) President Makaela Hayford brought further attention to the issue of racial profiling, using this specific case as a step towards tackling racial profiling in the community.

Residential Hall Association (RHA) President and fourth-year Cameron Childers emphasized that not only is racial profiling a common occurance on campus, but it is underlying and often goes unnoticed on a daily basis, an issue which must be addressed.

Childers said, “I have heard from so many black students that they are stopped frequently.”

Encapsulating this perspective, Class Officer Collective (COC) President Steve Ruan added, “We are in this CWRU bubble and we forget that we are part of a larger community. We need to think about how we interact with a community that we are not immediately a part of.”

Hayford agreed. She said, “As much as I want to focus on the police, the root of the problem is that a student called the police because a man was ‘mumbling’ and was ‘missing teeth.’ I think that work needs to be done with students on who belongs in our community.”

Essentially, each speaker expressed that the misperceptions of students contribute to racial profiling on campus by spreading false definitions and assumptions throughout the community.

After identifying a potential source of the issue, third-year student Lucy Wan described how neighborhood tours can help students better understand the community outside of CWRU. Wan suggested expanding students’ familiarity with University Circle in order to create a more accepting, widened perspective on the overall community.

As of now, SPR plans to further discuss the issue of racial profiling on campus with individuals, smaller boards and eventually find a solution involving all parties involved.

SPR’s meeting concluded with organizational updates.

RHA has finalized details of their Love Where You Live Week. From April 2 to April 6, different events will be held everyday of the week, providing a fun perspective on Cleveland and a variety of foods, including Insomnia Cookies and chicken wings.

The Undergraduate Diversity Collaborative will be hosting the Annual World Expo on April 8 from 1 to 4 p.m. in celebration of global cultural diversity, where different cultural traditions will be showcased.

Additionally, COC is considering creating a boot camp for students who seek office next year, while the Undergraduate Student Government (USG) passed a resolution for transgender-health and non-binary bathrooms.