Campus representatives discuss safety, racism

University+police%2C+University+Housing%2C+the+Counseling+Center+and+other+organizations+gathered+to+discuss+campus+safety.

University police, University Housing, the Counseling Center and other organizations gathered to discuss campus safety.

By Charlotte Collins

In light of the recent crimes on campus, La Casa Cultural Latina held a discussion at the Asian American Cultural Center regarding students’ unsafe feelings at the University.

Representatives from University Housing, the University of Illinois Police Department, the Counseling Center, the Office of Inclusion and Intercultural Relations and the LGBT Resource Center were in attendance Wednesday night. Xavier Ramirez, senior in Social Work and LAS, said he worries younger students out on campus at night may feel a justified sense of insecurity about their surroundings.

“I don’t want people to be scared to be in certain spaces after it’s dark out,” Ramirez said. “We talk to students and tell them it’s okay, and we don’t know it’s okay. With everything going on that’s so recent, we don’t know if it’s okay.”

UIPD Sergeant Joan Fiesta said she is aware of the concerns, especially regarding minorities on campus.

“There are issues at play that we have to balance, part of that is do we use racial identifiers?” Fiesta said. “Because based on a very, very scant description, that makes a part of our population feel targeted. We don’t want to do that, as the police.”

Several attendees raised the topic of Unofficial St. Patrick’s Day t-shirts, specifically a recent design featuring Illinois’ former mascot, Chief Illiniwek, as well as a comment about reservations. Students made comments about feelings alienated on a predominantly white campus.

“I remember we had this issue last year when Phyllis Wise wouldn’t close down the school. We had students who felt in a position that they could make these racist, sexist comments to the Chancellor,” said Ramirez. “… It’s hard to tell students to feel safe physically when socially they feel so vulnerable.”

Charlotte can be reached at [email protected].