Letter to the Editor from recent C.O.D.E. alumni

25

Dear Occidental Dean of Students Office and the Oxy Community:

As Oxy alumni, we are appalled by the recent events on campus. This letter is prompted by recent accounts of campus security using excessive physical force to subdue a differently-abled, campus guest of color. We strongly feel that this event was not singular, but part of an alarming standard of excessive force and policing. We are writing to express our support of the Coalition at Oxy for Diversity and Equity’s (C.O.D.E.) demands including transparency in campus safety operations, information on changes in policy, adopting a standard of de-escalation, and an end to racial profiling. We also express our deep disappointment in the administration’s failure to address the demands by September 25th, as recommended by current C.O.D.E. students.

It appears to us that the societal trend of irresponsible and harmful policing practices is being reinforced on Occidental’s campus. We recognize this semester’s incidents as manifestations of the larger societal inclination towards excessive police force — underpinned by the profound history of police aggression toward differently-abled people, people of color, and those of other socially marginalized identities.

Campus Safety’s job is to sustain a safe campus so that students may thrive and pursue their academic pursuits without fear. However, Campus Safety’s actions have instead contributed to a climate where students and other community members feel unsafe on campus. It is clear to us that the practices of Campus Safety are dangerously insufficient, which necessitates an open interrogation of the policies and procedures that govern this department that is integral to the everyday experiences of all people on Oxy’s campus.

We stand by CODE students and faculty in their analysis of these events as well as their tenacious efforts in seeking concrete solutions to making campus safety a responsible endeavor. The safety of some community members should not hinge on Campus Safety’s ability to violate the basic civil rights of others when they see fit. We urge the administration to support CODE by promptly honoring their push for transparent and equitable safety practices on campus.

As alumni, we are proud of the Oxy education we received. Though, for many of the undersigned, this education did not come without disappointment with the administration’s failure to implement effective structures to ensure congruence between the true Oxy experience and the college’s rhetoric surrounding its commitment to diversity and inclusion. As students of color and/or students from other marginalized groups, there was a disconnect between experiences like tokenization or under-representation within student organizations and the promise of a diverse and supportive campus in the brochures.

In signing this letter, we are expressing our hope that the administration will honor the demands that CODE has set forth as well as our ongoing commitment to Occidental becoming the compassionate, socially responsible community that students and faculty have been pushing to create for decades.

CODE DEMANDS:

Release Interim Campus Safety Policy by Sept. 25th

Administration must release a public statement about the events of the 5th by Friday, Sept. 25th

Accelerate the timeline and create specific and transparent benchmarks

Allow student input on Campus Safety Policies and be transparent on how policy decisions are made

Articulate changes in the drug and alcohol policy to ALL students, not just first year students

Send email notifications to campus and student body if someone is restrained, removed from campus and/or their case is referred to LAPD

Provide an explanation of the bulletproof vests and unmarked car as these are direct contradictions of Campus Safety’s goals to make themselves more accessible and approachable

Create changes in policies and implement training for situations involving differently abled individuals.

 

– Kathryn Arnett ‘15, Mary Atyemizian ‘15, Fatima Avellan ‘13, Eden Belachew ‘15, Bianca Cervantes ‘14, Malcolm Clayton ‘14, April DesCombes ‘14, Mischa DiBattiste ‘15, Melissa Donaldson ‘15, Keven Duran ‘15, Qiu Fogarty ‘14, Jordan Greenslade ‘15, Samarah Jackson ‘15, Hailey Jures ‘14, Stella Kim ‘15, Tsering Lama ‘15, Brandi Locke ‘13, Estrella Lucero ‘14, Alex Luke ‘13, Lucia Martinez ‘15, Myell Mergaert ‘11, Iesha Mitchell ‘14, Nancy Nguyen ‘14, Kristine Nowlain ‘12, David Pino ‘14, Maddie Resch ‘15, Elisha Roberts ‘05, Robert Rodriguez Donos ‘15, Katharine Rowe ‘15, Shylana Roman ‘13, Kerry Sakimoto ‘15, Alicia Skogrand ‘10, Samantha Sommer ‘15, Serena Stuve ‘15, George Summers ‘15, Andri Tai-Ward ‘12, Benjamin Toney ‘14, Jasmine Tovar ‘14, Nancy Valdez ‘15, Emily Watkins ‘15, Joseph Wei ‘13, Veronica Woodard ‘05, Eliana Yoneda ‘12, Vanessa Zendejas ‘15