New committee further prioritizes campus diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts

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Thursday, June 25, 2020

As one of the four pillars of the University of Iowa’s strategic plan, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion is a critical element of the future of the university. The UI has been taking steps within and beyond the 2019-2021 Excellence through Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Action Plan, but more immediate action is needed.

Reimagining Campus Safety Action Committee

A safe campus is an inclusive campus for every member of the UI campus community.

“In order to truly reimagine public safety on our campus, we must approach the issue as though we are starting from scratch. What do we need in order to create a safe and inclusive campus?” says President Bruce Harreld. “The University of Iowa will start that process of change now.”

Members of the UI Reimagining Campus Safety Action Committee, appointed by President Harreld and led by Vice President for Student Life Sarah Hansen, will develop a new future of public safety for the campus. A shared vision will be created by answering these and other questions:

  • What are the essential elements of a safe and inclusive campus?
  • What policies, practices, and organizational structures are needed in order to provide the essential elements of a safe and inclusive campus?
  • Who should perform the various duties associated with a safe and inclusive campus?

The process of deliberate dialogue to understand the unique issues that exist on a college campus will begin on July 6, 2020.

“We must have public safety structures and processes that are tailored to the specific needs of the UI campus, and those structures and processes must support our values of diversity, equity, and inclusion,” says Hansen. “Everything must be on the table.”

By July 1, 2021, a new structure will be in place to support the collective vision of the campus. This may involve new and different roles, scope, focus, budgets, and may include a broad range of professions spanning:

  • Social workers
  • Mental health experts
  • Case managers, and
  • Public safety officers

“Redefining what public safety means for the University of Iowa will require the campus community to think differently and to dismantle our current structures in order to build a better future,” says Hansen. “I believe our Hawkeye community is up to the task.”

Additional Actions Taken

On June 5, 2020, the UI released a joint statement with the City of Iowa City and announced additional steps including:

  • Actively participating in the Iowa City Community Police Review Board review of the Iowa City Police Department. Status: In planning
  • Creating a focused partnership with shared governance, which includes representatives from the Undergraduate Student Government and Graduate and Professional Student Government, to initiate reform. Status: Completed and ongoing (Re-imagining Campus Safety Action Committee)
  • Conducting an audit of the UI Department of Public Safety (UIDPS), including a climate assessment of interactions with communities of color. Status: In planning
  • Establishing specific training and operational requirements for the UIDPS within the DEI Action Plan. Status: In planning
  • Committing to President Barack Obama’s Police Use of Force Project. Status: Completed and ongoing
  • Maintaining the UIDPS as the primary public safety responders for campus. Status: Completed and ongoing
  • Prioritizing skill development and a commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, and social justice for all employees of UIDPS. Status: In Planning