May 10, 2022


9:59 p.m.

University Launches Council to Obtain Community Input on Public Safety Decisions

A UCPD car parked on 57th Street, temporarily blocking the traffic and leaving space for rally participants.

Yiwen Lu / The Chicago Maroon

The University has created the Public Safety Advisory Council to gather community feedback on public safety policies on campus and within the University of Chicago Police Department (UCPD) extended patrol area, according to an email sent on Friday, May 6, by President Paul Alivisatos and Provost Ka Yee Lee.

The council will collaborate with the University’s Department of Safety and Security (DSS) to incorporate community feedback into the University’s public safety decisions and assist DSS in raising awareness of the University’s efforts to improve safety around campus. This includes collaborating with DSS and UCPD to support “bias-free, community-driven policing,” according to the council’s website.

The council will also report on “UCPD metrics of community concern”—including traffic stops, use of force, and citizen complaints—to inform its recommendations. Complaints against specific UCPD employees will continue to be investigated by the University's Independent Review Committee.

According to its charter, the council will meet monthly during the academic year and conduct at least one public forum per quarter. The charter stipulates that the council’s work “be conducted with the utmost transparency.” In addition to meeting minutes, an annual report detailing the council’s findings will be published at the end of the academic year.

The council can recommend policy changes to the University by a majority vote at any time. The University is expected to respond in writing to the council’s recommendations within 30 days. However, the University is not required to follow the recommendations, and the council’s charter emphasizes that policy and funding decisions affecting public safety remain solely with the University.

The council will be composed of 15 voting members and six non-voting members. Of the voting members, 11 will be affiliated with the University, and four will be community members. The non-voting members will be the designated representatives of various University departments, including UCPD; the Office of Civic Engagement; and the Center for the Study of Race, Politics, and Culture.

University-affiliated members will include a council chair, four academic appointee representatives, three student representatives, and three staff representatives. Two graduate student representatives and one undergraduate student representative will be nominated by the Graduate Council and College Council respectively. Applications to join the council are due on May 27, 2022. More information on applying can be found on its website.

Community representatives will be nominated by a selection committee in the Office of Civic Engagement. Candidates must either live in the UCPD extended patrol area or be a parent or guardian of a student attending a K–12 school in the UCPD patrol area. All appointees to the council must receive final approval from Alivisatos or Lee.

“Over the past several months, we have implemented multiple initiatives designed to address issues related to public safety,” Alivisatos and Lee wrote in their email. “We have also committed to engaging members of the campus and South Side communities in these efforts.”

The council is the second University-led body formed this year with the aim of evaluating the relationship between the University and its neighbors. In December 2021, the University announced the creation of the Council on UChicago/Community Relations: Historical, Contemporary, and Future to investigate the relationship between the University and the South Side.

Unlike the Council on UChicago/Community Relations, which is scheduled to complete its work in 2025, the Public Safety Advisory Council will be a permanent body. Members will serve three-year terms, with the exception of student representatives, who will serve one-year terms.

The council’s first meeting is expected to be held in September 2022.