The University of Cincinnati removed a suspect’s race from a campus crime alert after shots were fired on campus Monday night and students and professors were told to “shelter in place.”
A text from campus police that went out first stated: “Shots fired on campus. Susp MB, 5’10 gray shorts last seen running toward baseball field. All on campus shelter in place.”
About 20 minutes later, an email sent out gave a similar announcement, but did not include the suspect’s race, according to screenshots obtained by The College Fix.
University of Cincinnati did not respond to a request for comment Tuesday asking why the suspect’s race was not included in the campuswide email.
An update from the campus police sent Tuesday stated “UCPD has received credible information regarding the incident and is in the process of interviewing suspects. No injuries resulted from the shot fired last night.”
As for the removal of the suspect’s race in the email alert — black — the University of Cincinnati would not be the first institution to scrub such details.
Brown University purposely excludes race and ethnicity from its campus crime alerts, the Brown Daily Herald reports.
The University of Maryland and the University of Minnesota Twin Cities have also stopped using them in most cases after students of color complained, reports University Business, which noted “race or ethnicity is not included in the suspect’s description if it is the only characteristic provided by a crime victim or witness.”
Critics contend race descriptions reinforce stereotypes and lead to profiling.
“Minority students argue that these alerts are too vague to do anything but stigmatize those — in particular, black male students — who may in fact look nothing like someone actually accused of a crime,” Inside Higher Ed reports.
Virginia Commonwealth University recently found something of a compromise. The school posts full suspect descriptions on the university’s public safety webpage, but text alerts exclude race descriptors and offer a hyperlink to the full description, reports the Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police.
“The change was made to deter the development of negative racial stereotypes,” the association reports.