Diversity Work And Discussions Continue At UC

Dec 8, 2015

UC officials, police, and community leaders gather Tuesday to discuss campus safety reforms.
Credit Tana Weingartner / WVXU

University of Cincinnati safety officials met with police and community members Tuesday to discuss the status of the university's reform efforts.

The group reviewed the school's policing data and what has been done in the months following the shooting death of Samuel DuBose by a UC police officer during an off-campus traffic stop in July.

UC Vice President for Safety and Reform Robin Engel says people are demanding justice, meaningful reform, and reconciliation.

"For us, this meeting is a gut check," Engel says. "This is a 'What have done?' 'Is it working?'"

Engel calls the goal an aggressive one.

"We want to be the new standard for urban campus policing in this country," Engel says.

The officer involved in the DuBose shooting, Ray Tensing, was fired immediately by the university and is facing trial on a charge of murder. 

Studies and reports have been commissioned and more are coming. Officers have all undergone new training and there is more street-level supervision. The memorandum of understanding with Cincinnati Police, which allows UCPD to patrol off campus, is under review. The group gathered Tuesday also decided to hold update meetings like this one quarterly.

Attendees said, and Engel agreed, that many people outside the university but within its surrounding neighborhoods simply don't know what the university is doing. Engel pointed to a website that's been created to help combat that issue. She says anyone can track the safety overhaul progress at http://uc.edu/safety-reform.

Many African-American clergy at the meeting called for more attention to diversity across the university, especially among faculty and students, not just the police department. President Ono has released a statement saying UC is working on that aspect as well.

Gene Ellington is pastor of Consolation Baptist Church in College Hill.

"I believe this is a much, much bigger issue as far as sensitivity is concerned," Ellington says. "As far as a culture that has existed at the university for years."

Ellington says he's a UC graduate and a former employee.

"Back in the 70s we were having these same discussions," Ellington says. "Here it is almost 2016 and we're still having the same discussion about the lack of minority students, the lack of minority faculty, the lack of minority contracting... it's time that we address the issue."

Members of BlackUC deliver their report to the president's office.
Credit Tana Weingartner / WVXU

To that point, members of the Black Unity Coalition (BlackUC) delivered what they're calling a roadmap to the president's office. Communication Professor Ron Jackson says the Strategic Diversity & Inclusion Roadmap: 2016-2026 is not a list of demands but rather a set of evidence-based recommendations.

He says the goal isn't to complain.

"It's about saying that we want to be a part of the solution," Jackson says. "Well, being part of the solution involves having a path forward."

Chief Diversity Officer Bleuzette Marshall accepted the document. She says the president's office will review it before commenting. Both sides says a meeting is being planned for January.

The roadmap can be downloaded by pushing the red button at the bottom of this website.