Students and Campus Safety & Security officers got to know one another and have an open, honest conversation facilitated by consultant Barbara Cheives. The Council for Intercultural Engagement, Black Student Union and MOSAIC co-hosted the event. MOSAIC is a student group dedicated to seeing, celebrating and exploring cultural diversity.
Students from the Black Student Union, Student Government Association, athletic teams and a variety of majors attended the dialogue with Council for Intercultural Engagement Chair Dr. Terriel Byrd, Assistant Vice President for Auxiliary Services and Procurement Ann-Marie Taylor, Director of Campus Safety & Security Adam Pina and about a half dozen campus safety officers.
Cheives is president of Converge & Associates Consulting, which specializes in race and ethnic relations consulting, community and civic engagement, and cultural competency/sensitivity training. Cheives is co-chair of The Tabernacle Church Social Justice Ministry.
Relationships between law enforcement officers and communities of color are more strained than ever, Cheives said. Although campus safety officers are not sworn police officers, about half of the students in the room said they thought of campus safety as law enforcement.
“This is just a microcosm of conversations that are happening all over the country,” said Cheives, who recently facilitated six-week dialogues between police and residents in nine local communities.
PBA’s discussion was the culmination of about eight months of ongoing conversation, Pina said.
“I want all your voices heard. If you have questions, if you have concerns let’s talk about it,” Pina said. “While you are sleeping at night, we’re still working. We’re here for you.”
Campus Safety & Security Maj. Charles Nodell, who has been with the department for more than 20 years, expressed his perspective: “Every student on this campus is created in the image of God, and that means they deserve to be treated with equal dignity. That is my personal conviction, and I have a zero-tolerance policy” for anything else.