March 7, 2014

SG takes action on policing

Student Government (SG) voted on two measures concerning the University of Chicago Police Department (UCPD) at its final assembly meeting of the quarter yesterday and selected members for its Elections and Rules Committee (E&R) in preparation for its spring elections.

SG voted to pass Resolution 2013.1, which proposes to allow SG to “directly appoint representatives of the Student Association” to the Independent Review Committee (IRC), an autonomous auditor of the UCPD. Sponsored by second-year Community and Government Liaison Tyler Kissinger and co-sponsored by Class of 2016 representative Mark Sands and Class of 2017 representatives Katherine Shen and Leeho Lim, the resolution resulted from a subcommittee last quarter, charged with considering whether partiality should be a criterion in appointing students to the IRC, and if Campus and Student Life administrators should have the power to veto SG’s recommendations.

The resolution passed with fifteen members in favor, one opposed, and four abstaining. According to Kissinger, this resolution is the beginning of a new conversation between SG and the University administration.

“I think this will probably serve as the basis for more discussion between Student Government representatives and folks at Campus and Student Life and the Office of the Provost as we talk more about how the IRC is structured and basically giving Student Government the power to appoint people to it,” he said.

The subcommittee formed last quarter in response to the administration’s rejection of ninth-year Ph.D. candidate Toussaint Losier for a seat on the IRC. Currently, the Executive Slate can submit recommendations to administrators, who have final approval over the students seated on IRC. While the Executive Slate recommended Losier, administrators were concerned that his arrest by the UCPD at the January 2013 trauma center protest could compromise the IRC’s impartiality.

In addition to the IRC resolution, SG also voted to sign the Coalition for Equitable Policing’s petition to the UCPD, which will be delivered to UCPD headquarters this afternoon. Third-year Ava Benezra presented the petition to Assembly, outlining the group’s three key demands for the UCPD: publicly releasing its current rules and regulations, amending its complaint process to make it more accessible, and establishing a process for releasing information to the public.

“It shows [Benezra] and the coalition take channels of power in the University seriously,” second-year Vice President for Student Affairs Jane Huber said.

SG’s endorsement of the petition passed with 15 members in favor, five opposed, and one abstaining.

Class of 2014 representative TJ Welch voted against both resolutions.

“I think the UCPD does a very good job and has done a good job, considering we live near two of the most dangerous neighborhoods in Chicago,” he said.

SG also voted in members to E&R and the Annual Allocations Committee. After reviewing approximately 10 applications, Executive Slate presented four members who were then confirmed to E&R: second-year Matthew Schaffer and third-years Howard Fang, Isabella Rowe, and Steven Wendeborn. Wendeborn is the only returning member of E&R, having served on the committee last year when E&R came under fire for a lack of transparency amid a controversial election season.