November 25, 2014

Student nominees to UCPD review committee rejected

All three student nominees for the Independent Review Committee (IRC) were rejected by administrators this fall.

The Office of Campus and Student Life (CSL) rejected the nominees because they had previously served on the committee. Student Government (SG) had nominated Hannah Chazin, Jacqueline Newsome, and Emma LaBounty, all of whom served on the IRC from 20132014.

The IRC, composed of University faculty, staff, students, and community members, acts as a stand-alone and unbiased auditor of the University of Chicago Police Department (UCPD) and reviews all complaints brought against it, compiling its findings in an annual report.

“This year Student Government recommended reappointing all three student committee members from last year, which would have been inconsistent with the practice of selecting new student members each year,” University spokesperson Jeremy Manier said. “The rotation of student members allows more students to learn about and participate on the committee."

CSL solicits recommendations for student members from SG and the deans of students of the University’s divisions. SG chooses its nominees from students who apply online. CSL sends recommendations to the Office of the Provost, which makes the final decision on the appointments of all committee members. Manier did not specify which administrators made the decision.

Chazin said she was unaware of the policy: “[It] only appeared this fall when SG submitted our names for their nominations.”

She disagreed with it because it prevents student members from fully understanding how the IRC functions. “It’s helpful to have a broader sense of what committee work is, what complaints are like, what the process is. I feel I only understood that by the spring quarter,” Chazin said.

Third-year SG President Tyler Kissinger said he was unaware of CSL’s policy before learning of the rejection.

“It’s unclear to me when that became the case that students wouldn’t be allowed to serve multiple terms,” Kissinger said.

He contacted Douglas Everson (A.B. ’13), former vice president for Administration and 2012–13 IRC member, who confirmed that SG was unaware of this policy in 2012. At least one student has served on the IRC for both the 2011–2012 and 2012–2013 terms, according to annual committee reports.

Kissinger said SG should be able to directly appoint people to committees, referencing last year, when administrators rejected Toussaint Losier’s bid for a seat on the IRC. Losier had been arrested by the UCPD while participating in a trauma center protest in January 2013.

“I still stand by all the determinations, including a vote by the assembly supporting a statement that we should have direct appointment,” Kissinger said.

Austin Blum, Josh Cannon, and Veronica Portillo Heap are the student members of the IRC for the 2014–2015 term, appointed after the initial nominees’ rejection.