A Message to the Student Body

To our fellow students –

We continue to be appalled, outraged, and disappointed with the state of bias and abusive policing in this country. Racial profiling and inappropriate demonstrations of police power are consistently and unacceptably present in the lives of many black and brown Americans and it must end. Earlier this month, a group of incoming WashU students were profiled by a group of neighborhood police officers. We have all seen the news articles, the statements from University administration, and the promises for change. These steps, while appropriate, are not enough. This single instance is not new or extraordinary in its occurrence—what is out of the ordinary is the response and publicity afforded to it. 

As Student Union, we recognize that we have failed our students in the past. We previously have not taken direct action and we sincerely apologize to all students who have not felt supported by us, the people who are supposed to amplify your voices. We are here to advocate for every student on this campus, and our action thus far has not adequately fulfilled that responsibility. We take full responsibility for our shortcomings and we will take tangible, action-oriented steps to improve our relationship with you all as well as improve the WashU student experience. This seemingly perpetual cycle of unacceptable situations, routine statements from administration, and empty promises for change are not sufficient. What these incoming students experienced on July 7 was not novel in its occurrence, but it was unacceptable nonetheless. We need to address this particular incident, but our action moving forward must also focus on combating the pervasive systemic issues of which last weekend’s encounter only scratches the surface.

We want to be clear: racial profiling by the police, an institution, an individual, or any figure of power is totally and completely unacceptable—whether it be on our own WashU campus, in the broader St. Louis community, or in this nation as a whole. In full acknowledgement of Student Union’s past and present failures to address the racial biases students face off and on WashU’s campus, we pledge to work with you to improve our own environment and ensure safety and support for all of our students.

To begin, we assure you that we will hold the administration to their promise of continued dialogue with the Clayton Police Department. Additionally, we acknowledge that the onus of action cannot stop there. As such, we expect our university administration to join Student Union in our commitment to combating racial discrimination via:

  1. More extensive bias training for the Washington University Police Department (WUPD).

  2. Continual improvements to our Bias Report and Support System (BRSS).

  3. More support options for students who experience racial profiling, including expanded mental health services.

  4. Working with the administration to preserve and improve our university’s core values of mutual respect, understanding and inclusion.

This outline is certainly not exhaustive, and we will have a more extensive list of expectations for action with deliverables by the end of July. During that time, we encourage you to continue having the conversations you are having and to remember that we are here to listen to you. Please feel free to reach out to any Student Union officers with your questions, concerns, or just to talk.

Best,

Your Student Union

 

Grace Egbo, SU President — president@su.wustl.edu

Olivia Williams, Speaker of the Senate — senate@su.wustl.edu

Sophie Scott, Senate Outreach Committee Chair — outreach@su.wustl.edu

Alia Nahra, Speaker of the Treasury — treasury@su.wustl.edu

Steven Kish, SU Vice President of Administration — administration@su.wustl.edu

Rory Mather, SU Vice President of Public Relations — pr@su.wustl.edu

Shelly Gupta, SU Vice President of Finance — finance@su.wustl.edu

Charlotte Pohl, SU Vice President of Programming — programming@su.wustl.edu