This prototype is one of several generated by the Reimagining Campus Safety Action Committee and is not in any way a final, actualized recommendation. Many essential details remain and many campus stakeholders would need to be involved moving forward with creation, implementation, and continuous evaluation of this prototype.

Note: the information in this supplement will be more helpful if you have watched the video first.

Is this feasible?

Yes, reimagining campus safety IS feasible. The proposed framework focuses on the following principles:

  • resource reallocation, so that life-affirming institutions are robustly funded;
  • safety that comes with threat of violence, use of force, and “order maintenance” is not safety at all; and
  • a central focus on the input and needs of historically minoritized identities.

What is this prototype based on?

The current system of policing that has largely failed historically marginalized students, staff, and faculty was invented in recent history and is far from a naturally occurring or necessary feature of successful society. Systems, including that of policing, have been created, shaped, and maintained by holders of social and political power and wealth: largely white, wealthy, male, cisgender, heterosexual people. There are also many examples throughout the world and throughout history without police. Therefore, it is not unreasonable to expect a reimagined model of safety and wellbeing that focuses on the voices and needs of historically marginalized people.

This prototype is based on the feedback received from historically marginalized individuals and groups across campus. Additionally, it is rooted in centuries of scholarship and organizing work from historically marginalized people who have had to fight for basic civil rights in the United States. For more information on these principles, see the works of Mariame Kaba, Angela Davis, Ruth Wilson Gilmore, and Marsha P. Johnson, among many others--particularly queer women of Color.

How might this be organized?

The prototype is designed for the Central Space to receive calls/texts for everything from emergency calls to basic needs. Students, staff, and faculty should feel comfortable using the Central Space for any and all things related to their wellness and safety. The Central Space represents both a physical and a virtual location. Service users should have the choice to report concerns via phone, text, online chat, or physical walk-ins.

What about other campus offices & personnel involved?

The multitude of University offices that are involved in some of the issues discussed in the prototype would be essential partners in the success of this new vision. Partners may include the Division of Student Life; Division of Diversity Equity & Inclusion; Office of Student Financial Aid; Student Disability Services; Iowa Food Pantry; Student Care & Assistance; Office of the Ombudsperson; and others. This prototype requires long lasting relationships with existing departments to ensure effectiveness of both proactive and reactive measures for campus safety.

How might this be funded?

Funding for this prototype should be driven by the foundational principle of reallocating resources according to the feedback and needs of historically marginalized campus stakeholders—particularly students, staff, & faculty. An Accountability Committee would continually assess the scope, effectiveness, and budget of the department of Public Safety.

The Department of Public Safety (DPS), with a budget of $8.7M a year, is the primary department responsible for campus safety. UIPD receives funding from the UI general education fund and through contracts and Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs) from around the University (e.g. Athletics, Housing & Dining, UIHC). This prototype views safety holistically, predicated on life-affirming campus and community services.

Funding this prototype could be done by examining DPS funds and identifying ways to reallocate dollars to the Central Space in collaboration with community partners (e.g. CommUnity Crisis Response, DVIP, GuideLink Center, etc.) and existing campus partners (e.g. Student Care & Assistance, RVAP, WRAC, Office of Sexual Misconduct Response Coordinator, etc.). These community and campus partners are best trained to respond to the specific calls for service without the threat of punishment, intimidation, and violence.

Would there still be a UIPD?

Yes, but in a reduced capacity. We propose that there would no longer be a culture of police patrol on campus. Based on feedback from focus groups of historically marginalized campus voices, the prototype reduces the scope and funding of the UIPD. UIPD's presence would be limited to immediate threats of serious harm such as active shooters, assaults with weapons, stalking, and other serious situations. This prototype proposes elimination of non-threat related police and security presence, including patrolling. DPS would be a tertiary part of the new Central Space and would work in coordination with the new features and new departments. DPS would continue to handle the majority of calls that previously went to UIPD, which in 2019 involved 911 hang ups, fingerprinting, traffic stops, and assisting facility maintenance, and fire alarm trouble. The Accountability Committee would be tasked with constantly analyzing and critiquing the funding and scope of UIPD.

What about people who still want police to respond to their incident?

There would still be police response available with this model. This model proposes that the service user retains the agency for how they would like to be served. This means the person being assisted has a say in the services they would like to respond to their needs. For example, if someone has experienced a sexual assault the prior day, the Central Space dispatcher can recommend a response that is led by RVAP. Additionally, the dispatcher will inform the caller that they have other options as well, including sending an armed police officer and a counselor.

Aren’t many of the issues on campus related to alcohol and substance use?

Yes, and we believe that armed police who are often focused on charging people with crimes are unable to get to the root cause of some of these problems. We call for a greater rehabilitative approach to drug and alcohol use. Instead of police response, which often leads to arrests and mishandling a health crisis, we propose sending health professionals as the primary responders, or partnering with local resources such as the new GuideLink Center. This can be accompanied by on-call professionals who are not focused on charging the person with a crime, but instead make contact with the person, involve friends or other peers, provide a safe ride home, and connecting the service user with community and support.

What about people who cause harm?

Transformative justice is essential to safety of communities everywhere and thus part of the vision for this prototype. Transformative justice is a long-term project that requires a vast shift in the culture of what it means to respond to harm in our community.

The current U.S. legal system believes that justice equals revenge. If someone violates the law, they receive a punishment roughly aligned with the gravity of their offense. This model acknowledges that the current justice system does not get to the root cause of harm because it responds to harm-doers by removing them from family, friends, reasonable living conditions, adequate healthcare, food, education, and meaning in life. We strive to ask “why” when approaching harm that has happened.

Transformative justice approaches take sustained effort, but they are an essential part of a long-term system of safety of community support and accountability. Our prototype proposes that at least eight members within the Central Space are paid to dedicate 2–5 hours weekly to transformative justice processes with a broadly inclusive oversight committee to guide implementation. Guidance on restorative practices may come from experts such as: Creative Interventions, GenerationFIVE, Philly Stands Up, Mariame Kaba, Shira Hassan, adrienne maree brown, and Dean Spade.