By Catie Byrne, Features Editor
Published in print Apr. 22, 2015
On the heels of the campus-wide conversation last Wednesday about an insensitive email sent by the UNCG Police, conversation facilitator and African American and African Diaspora Studies professor Dr. Omar Ali, was approached by students, the police and university leadership to create an advisory board.
In collaboration with students, he established the Student Advisory Council for UNCG Police, a council intending to bridge the gap between and improve upon UNCG student and police relations.
The statement of purpose for the Student Advisory Council for UNCG Police states the group’s intent is to: “Make recommendations to the Chief of Police…serve as the UNCG student body’s voice to the command level of the UNCG Police Department” and “work collaboratively with the Chief of Police to examine areas of concern and celebrate areas of success.”
The Student Advisory Council for UNCG Police lists four principal objectives: “To bring diverse perspectives to the examining/monitoring of new and current police officers and programs of the UNCG Police, to advise and help guide the practices of UNCG Police with regard to communication with the campus, to advise and help raise concerns from UNCG students about the practices of UNCG Police and to propose new programs, workshops and community-outreach events to be co-lead by students and the UNCG Police.”
While the council is in the beginning stages of planning and organization, it will include a five-member planning body with one representative from the Student Government Association President and the Graduate Student Association President as well as three other members who will hold a campus-wide election for four other, at-large members.
Students gathered on April 20 at 5:00 p.m. in Elliott University Center to discuss the logistics and construction of the Student Advisory Council for UNCG Police. A recurring topic of conversation amongst students was that they wanted the Student Advisory Council for UNCG Police to include as many minority groups on campus as possible and not to be an entirely black group.
Most felt similarly; however, establishing a seat on the council for every minority group on campus would prove logistically difficult, thus the group will collectively convene again and decide upon which way they feel will best engage other campus minority groups.
Of diversity on the council, Ali said that it will likely be, “Black-led but multiracial— we want to be as inclusive as possible.”
Ali said that he hopes to use his role as someone connected to UNCG students, police and administration to create useful communication and connection between these groups while making sure that the students on the council have their voices heard.