Cornell University No Longer Requires ‘Raced Descriptions of Suspects’ in Campus Crime Alerts

The Cornell University Faculty has passed a resolution calling on campus police to not "re
Will Barkoff via Unsplash

The Cornell University Faculty has passed a resolution calling on campus police to not “require raced descriptions of suspects” in campus crime alert emails because such descriptions reinforce violence against black people.

According to the university’s passed resolution, “the knowledge that a crime may have been committed by a Black man does not make CRIME ALERT recipients any safer.”

Instead, the faculty believes the alerts endanger “Black people in the community, reinforcing the common phenomenon of violence against Black people on the grounds that they look like suspected criminals.”

“These emails consistently foreground the race of suspects, sometimes listing race and gender as the only distinguishing features of unidentified criminal suspects,” the resolution reads.

“One of the perceptions that contributes to and justifies the disproportionate and disproportionately violent policing of Black people is the false association of Blackness with criminality,” the statement continues.

The school also reveals 75 percent of the “suspects whose race was identified in CRIME ALERT emails were Black men.”

“Vaguely saying that a black male has dark skin, or superfluously reporting that a black male has black hair — argues to us that there is unexamined cultural work being done through these emails,” a second background document says.

Cornell University’s Faculty concludes, “This information is useless to protect the community from the perpetrator — unless one believes it is protective to mistrust or avoid all average black men, which would precisely constitute a racist prejudice.”

Meanwhile, the Cornell police remark about the alerting system, “the university sends crime alerts as part of the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act,” Fox News reported.

The Cornell police website also elaborates on the topic:

Decisions to disseminate a communication will be decided on a case-by-case basis, in light of all the facts surrounding the crime and the continuing danger to the campus community. The purpose of the notification is to aid in the prevention of similar crimes by alerting the community about the incident and providing information on actions people can take to diminish their chances of being victimized.

Cornell’s resolution ultimately anchors its case in other crime alert policies, “as evidenced by the legally successful transition away from the practice at Brown University, the University of Minnesota, and the University of Michigan.”

What might have spawned the resolution occurred last year, when “dozens of Cornell University faculty, staff, students and alumni signed onto a letter attacking ‘colorblind’ practices, insisting that the university institute racial quotas and recruit “clusters” of non-White individuals,” according to a New York Post report.


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