Activist groups have repeatedly called for defunding the campus police, but professors say cops are needed to stop the violence
Nearly 400 professors at the University of Chicago, on the city’s South Side, have urged the administration to expand policing after several killings in the most recent semester and three in 2021.
“Anti-violence should be made TOP priority at the University,” the faculty members wrote in an open letter to the administration. But unlike some of the activist groups on campus that want to abolish the police, the University of Chicago faculty want more cops and security guards.
The letter asks for the university to “[e]nlarge the borders of UCPD territory to Hyde Park neighborhood” and “dramatically increase surveillance camera systems in the entire Hyde Park community, making sure that every block and every street is covered by surveillance cameras.”
Security guards should also be employed at all nearby streets. “Security guards need to patrol every road crossing in the neighborhood,” the faculty letter said.
They also want to see accountability for the murder of Shaoxiong Zheng, a Chinese student who died soon after graduating with his graduate degree from the university.
Beyond that murder, there needs to be more accountability from local police, the faculty said.
A committee should be formed to “address the serious violence and security issues in Hyde Park.”
The letter said:
Every gun robbery or other crime that has occurred on campus requires attention and a final report. We cannot afford to let these slip away, begetting eventual further loss of life as we have witnessed repeatedly in the last few years. Criminals need to be identified, arrested and sentenced — this is essential to rebuild public trust.
Professor Rachel Fulton Brown, a signer of the letter, told The College Fix that previous calls to defund the police were likely seen by most people as “unrealistic.”
“I do not know whether anyone has taken a proper survey of the community on campus on the call to defund the police,” she told The Fix via email, “but my sense is that most people have simply stayed quiet about it, knowing that it was unrealistic given the larger context in which we reside as an institution.”
Brown shared an email from the president and provost addressed the recent violence.
It included a link to a summary of how there would be increased foot patrols around campus and how the Chicago Police Department would assign more cops to the Hyde Park neighborhood.
“Beginning the afternoon of November 9, 2021 [when Zheng was killed], the University of Chicago Police Department (UCPD) and the Chicago Police Department (CPD) increased foot and vehicular patrols on and near campus and throughout Hyde Park,” the university said on its safety update.
The administration email also highlighted its non-law enforcement work.
“To date, the University has made extensive investments, in partnership with community members and leaders, in areas such as social service delivery, trauma care and recovery, N-12 education, workforce development, local leadership training, small business development, as well as other programs to help address some of the challenges of urban life,” President Paul Alivisatos and Provost Ka Yee Lee wrote.
IMAGES: University of Chicago; Fractal Pictures/Shutterstock