Senate Beat: Grievances against Community Safety Aired at Student-only Forum

Senate held a closed forum this week, limited to students, on the conduct of Community Safety. Students, of which there were around 20, aired many grievances with Community Safety, including hostile and discriminatory behavior against minority groups, overzealous enforcement of the Alcohol and Other Drug (AOD) policy, and its inadequate response to sexual assault.

This forum is one of a range of events that has been planned by Senate to address issues affecting students. Information from this event, added President Nikhita Airi, would be shared with Community Safety. It would also set the parameters for a future public forum for students in which Community Safety would participate. The time and format of this future event is yet to be decided, but Senate welcomes feedback on Community Safety throughout this process, hoping to broaden the source of feedback beyond the relatively small sample that attended the forum.

When asked to describe their interactions with Community Safety Officers (CSOs), students consistently talked of a “mixed bag” evenly divided between the neutral and negative experiences. Minority students, in particular, stated that they were disproportionately on the receiving end of CSO behavior and treatment they described as “tactless.” Common grievances aired at the event included complaints of ableist, transphobic, and racist behavior against student, staff, and community members. This ranged from issues of misgendering to incidents of perceived racial profiling. Otherwise, other students living off-campus said they rarely interacted with CSOs because of their greater separation from campus.

Other students spoke of Community Safety’s overzealous enforcement of AOD policy. Many shared incidents in which CSOs, invited over various concerns, would proceed to excessively and exhaustively search for evidence of drug use. Others spoke of similar behavior from Gary Granger himself. A common concern was the hostile treatment of what students thought to be “repeat offenders” known to Community Safety. To many, this cast doubt on Community Safety’s commitment to harm reduction.

Students were most vocal with their grievances when discussing Community Safety’s inadequate response to high rates of sexual assault on campus. Some spoke of widely varying experiences with securing no contact orders; some raised negative interactions with Gary Granger in regards to rape, who they perceived as insensitive to their concerns.

In contrast, students offered little when they were asked to discuss what Community Safety did well. Many praised individual CSOs for building rapport with community members, and hoped that more CSOs would engage similarly with the Reed community. One student, speaking from experience with public job interviews conducted by Community Safety, expressed confidence in their “ideas.” They emphasized Community’s Safety’s intent to prioritize harm reduction over overzealous policing. Yet they expressed concern with the implementation of these ideas in the hiring process.

President Nikhita Airi ended by soliciting feedback on Community Safety’s grievance processes. In fact, the majority of those present did not know what these processes were. Others talked about a wide range of processes: emailing Gary Granger, or “confronting” him in person; speaking with Bruce Smith, or separately Mike Brody. Some acknowledged Gary Granger’s effectiveness at dealing with grievances against individual CSOs; others expressed frustration at his slow response.

Finally, Senate used the same meeting to appoint this year’s Renn Fayre czars. Eden Daniels, Elena McKnight, Jules Oh, and Grey Saquee will form Reed’s first majority-POC team of Renn Fayre Czars.

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