September 16, 2020
Dear Reed students, faculty, and staff,
In June 2020, an interaction took place between a Reed community safety officer (CSO) and three members of the Reed community that left the community members feeling that they had been subjected to unnecessary surveillance and were unwelcome on campus.
The Office of Community Safety participated in an investigation conducted by the Office for Institutional Diversity (OID) and the Office of Human Resources as part of our Bias Incident Reporting. The investigation determined that, despite a lack of malicious intent or even awareness, the community safety officer more than likely engaged in racial profiling. Regardless of intent, the interaction left three community members feeling wrongly judged and alienated.
We wish to publicly apologize for the considerable harm caused to the three community members involved in this incident and to the community as a whole. We recognize that such incidents do not occur in isolation and serve as a reminder of how even unconscious bias may lead to harm. We are committed to continually re-examining our training, policies, and practices regarding CSO interactions with community members.
We write to let you know of several actions that are underway:
- In spring 2020, all members of the community safety staff began a months-long online training course on diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace. All community safety staff will complete the eight training modules by the end of December 2020.
- OID is designing and facilitating a supplementary training course for the community safety team to connect the broader themes in the online training course to specific inclusive practices in CSO interactions with community members. All members of the community safety staff will take part in these training sessions.
- With input from OID, community safety is currently examining its internal operating guidelines for community safety staff (as part of Community Safety's Equity and Anti-Racism Initiative) to include more specific guidance on culturally responsive interactions with community members.
As community safety continues to improve interactions with community members, we recognize many challenges. This is a particularly poignant moment for our community in that we are witnessing heightened national awareness and calls to action regarding disproportionate police violence aimed at communities of color, especially Black Americans. We recognize that this broader historical and contemporary context informs the interactions between CSOs and Reed’s Communities of Color. In addition, as part of our COVID-19 response, we have closed campus to the general public to minimize the exposure of current students, staff, and faculty, and we are requiring Reed community members to wear Reed IDs and masks in most campus locations. CSOs are charged with the sensitive work of reminding Reed community members to wear visible Reed IDs and reminding members of the public found on campus that the campus is closed. The community safety team is committed to conducting these conversations in a culturally responsive manner, treating all community members with courtesy and respect in every interaction.
Although many colleges and universities contract with private companies or actual law enforcement agencies to provide campus security, Reed College has made an intentional decision to create a community safety team that is fully a part of our community. Our community safety team is not a police force. They provide our community with precisely the essential services that social justice activists are calling for non-police to perform: performing routine checks of campus, responding to inquiries from community members, responding to crisis situations, and providing myriad nonemergency services to ease the way for community members.
Despite the ongoing work of community safety and our entire campus community towards inclusion, we acknowledge that bias and harm may still occur. We welcome community members to report incidents to the Office for Institutional Diversity so that we can work together to keep the campus environment both safe and welcoming for all Reed community members.
We thank all Reed community members for the efforts they have made and continue to make to ensure that our return to in-person education is successful.
Gary Granger, Director of Community Safety
Mary James, Dean for Institutional Diversity