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Barnard College suspends campus safety officer after encounter with Black student

New York

Carol Ozemhoya | OW Contributor | 4/16/2019, 10 a.m.
Barnard College has placed on leave campus safety officers who physically stopped a Black student from..

Barnard College has placed on leave campus safety officers who physically stopped a Black student from entering the library building last Thursday night, reports InsideHigherEd.com. The incident, videotaped and shared by Barnard students on social media, has led to protests and a quickly organized campus meeting, and to a promise by the college to fully investigate what it is calling an “unfortunate incident.”

The student is enrolled at Columbia University, with which Barnard is affiliated. Columbia students are permitted to use Barnard’s library. Video shows him objecting to being asked for his identification and also for being restrained by officers. After he gave the safety officers his ID, they said they needed to check his status and asked him to leave the building. Barnard has a policy of checking IDs as people enter various facilities after 11 p.m., and this incident took place close to midnight.

But many students said that the policy is inconsistently enforced, and that applying it to a Black person – particularly in this way – constitutes racial profiling. Barnard’s president, Sian Leah Beilock, has sent two messages to the campus about the incident. In the first, she said in part, “As many of you are aware, there was an unfortunate incident last night in the Milstein Center that has raised concerns about our safety and security policies and how they are enforced. I have spoken to Roger Mosier, our vice president for campus services, about last night’s events. We deeply regret that this incident occurred, and we are undertaking a thorough review of our public safety officers’ actions, and will address our processes and procedures and how they are applied.”

In that message, she invited students to a “listening session” Friday evening. In the second, she said, “The college is hiring an independent investigator to review what transpired Thursday night and to provide us with recommendations for further action. The public safety officers involved, as well as the public safety supervisor, have been placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of this investigation.” Students have continued to protest over the incident.