Letter in Illinois Times
January 4, 1996
To the editor:
Jeff Ignatius reported last week that SCUIS (the So-Called University
of Illinois at Springfield) is bringing in additional police officers.
This news will come as a surprise to most people on campus, since the
administration has not publicly reported these plans. Since the administration
has been unable to operate even a small force adequately, I have to wonder
how it will handle a larger one. To hire additional officers without
first taking care of unfinished business is as irresponsible as the decision
to hire the police in the first place.
Last June, the administration admitted
it had never given its police the promised "one-week course related to
being a police officer in a college setting." Whether they have trained
the officers in the six months since then has never been reported. There
still appears to be no effective oversight of the police, no role for
the campus community in police training, and no
on-campus complaint procedure for police misconduct and brutality.
What the administration has done is make a constant effort to enhance
the police force's public image. I can understand this, since the police
have done so much to deserve the ridicule they generally receive. If you
can't fix the substance, you can try to fix the appearance. Yet all the
pictures of smiling Officers Friendly in the student newspaper and campus
mailings will not change the views of faculty, staff, and students who
have actually observed or been confronted by these officers.
The focus on image is in keeping with the reason the police are on campus
in the first place. Ignatius repeated the administration's old claim that
the cops are there to protect the university from liability. However,
a series of Faculty Senate meetings held before Naomi Lynn hired the police
effectively demolished the liability argument. Also demolished was the
argument that the police would make the campus safer. About all the administration
could come up with in the end was that some people would feel safer and
that having a "professional force" would look good outside the university.
Consequently, the Faculty Senate opposed hiring the police.
Lynn ignored the Senate vote. Her lack of concern for campus governance
and collaborative decision making has escalated dramatically since then.
The administration continues to stamp out everything that made Sangamon
State University interesting. This may please the new bosses in Champaign,
but our students, staff, and faculty will be worse off in the end.
Police Review Panel Chronology (4/97): failure
to establish police complaint procedure
critique of Administration's unilaterally
imposed complaint policy (4/24/97)
memo to faculty proposing a Senate resolution
unresolved issues (1995)