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University president apologizes for using the word ‘profiling’

‘I regret … I was not more careful with my language’

Case Western Reserve University President Barbara Snyder recently apologized to the campus community for using the word “profiling.”

Snyder made the amends in a memo emailed July 11 to the campus community. She wrote it after campus forums at which students and educators voiced concern over the fact that the private, Cleveland-based campus was to host police officers for the Republican National Convention.

“In response to concerns raised about the officers’ presence, we hosted two campus forums last week,” Snyder said in her memo, a copy of which was obtained by The College Fix. “… At the request of participants at one session, we provide below a summary of our answers to the most common issues raised—as well as some of the most frequent audience responses.”

Among the concerns raised at the forums, according to Snyder’s memo, was “communication.”

“After receiving questions regarding the officers’ presence during the convention, I wrote to the campus community June 24. In that email, I urged that members of our community not stereotype all police officers as violent or prejudiced. Nevertheless, given the current national context, I regret that I described such behavior as ‘profiling,’ and that I was not more careful with my language,” Snyder’s memo stated. “I continue to hope that we avoid presumptions about any person, and instead treat each as an individual.”

Asked this week by The College Fix why specifically some were upset over the word “profiling,” or why Snyder felt she needed to apologize for using the word, a campus spokesman replied: “The president’s email speaks for itself. The university has no additional comment.”

Snyder’s July 11 memo began by pointing out that “the deadly shootings last week in Louisiana, Minnesota and Texas have dramatically intensified our national conversation involving race, law enforcement and the best paths to justice, fairness and safety for all.”

“Those tragedies came as Case Western Reserve engaged in its own campus discussions regarding our decision to house 1,700 police officers (and approximately 200 members of the Ohio National Guard) at our university during the week of the Republican National Convention,” it continued.

She went on to also apologize for the way in which the university conveyed the process and impact of hosting the officers.

“In answering the city’s convention request, we failed to give adequate consideration to the impact the decision would have on members of our community—in particular students staying in residence halls near the buildings housing the officers,” Snyder’s memo said. “While we spoke widely about the decision (during spring meetings at each school, at Faculty Senate, etc.), we did not communicate directly with students who would remain on campus for the summer as much as we should have. For that lack of communication, I apologize.”

Some students were very upset over the officers’ presence. A Change.org petition launched in late June by some students and educators demanded “riot police” store their weapons off campus, and called for the university to offer alternative housing arrangements for students who requested it.

Snyder, in her July 11 memo, explained that “I did ask the city if it would be possible to have all weapons stored off campus. Several concerns, including those regarding the officers’ ability to respond quickly to an emergency situation downtown, made the city unable to accommodate this request.”

As for the clamor for alternative housing, that demand was met.

“The university will provide alternative housing options for students concerned about living in buildings near the officers’ residence halls,” Snyder’s email had stated.

The university also provided a “safe space” for students during the week of the convention, which ran July 18 through July 21. A Daily Caller reporter who visited the safe space found coloring books, colored pencils and markers, and lollipops on hand; one of the coloring books was “Being Gay is OK.”

At least one Case Western Reserve University alumnus said he is upset at how Snyder has handled the controversy.

Dr. Kerry Robson, who graduated from the CWRU School of Dentistry in 1983, told The College Fix via email this week that instead of apologizing, Snyder “should have called out the students for not standing behind law enforcement and she should have set an example of how to support the officers and explain their role.”

“After all, they were present to defend the rule of law and thereby allow the political process to play out by protecting everyone’s constitutional rights. It is ridiculous for students to feel threatened. That comes from a result of poor leadership and an even poorer real world education,” Robson said.

Robson sent an email to Snyder expressing his frustration over the way in which the situation was handled and told The Fix he has not heard back.

MORE: ‘Safe space’ offered in response to RNC

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About the Author
Fix Editor
Jennifer Kabbany is editor-in-chief of The College Fix and a visiting fellow with the Independent Women's Forum.