Author: Lena Smith
The Coalition at Oxy for Diversity and Equity (C.O.D.E.) presented a list of eight demands of the administration and Campus Safety to Dean of Students Barbara Avery Friday afternoon.
C.O.D.E.’s demands are in response to the Sept. 5 arrest of a man of color outside the Green Bean.
The demands the student group outlined include email notifications to the campus community in the event of involvement from the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) as well as better communication to students about drug and alcohol policies and Campus Safety’s policies. Other items include an explanation of the bullet-proof vests and the unmarked Campus Safety car, in addition to modifications in training regarding situations involving differently-abled people.
Friday’s action followed a public teach-in the day before, in which C.O.D.E. members presented their demands to assembled students on Branca Patio. They declared next Friday, Sept. 25 as the administration’s deadline to meet demands.
C.O.D.E. core member Abhilasha Bhola (senior) opened the teach-in by expressing C.O.D.E.’s concern that the rights of students may be violated in situations involving Campus Safety and law enforcement officers. She also spoke of the administration and Campus Safety’s perceived lack of transparency following the arrest.
The demands C.O.D.E. outlined include email notifications to the campus community in the event of involvement from the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) as well as better communication to students about drug and alcohol policies and Campus Safety’s policies. Other demands included an explanation of the bullet-proof vests and the unmarked Campus Safety car as well as changes to training regarding situations involving differently-abled people.
Bhola said that since there has been no official statement from either the administration or Campus Safety, the student body does not know what policies they were following, nor if the arrest exemplified how future incidents involving minorities or differently-abled people would be handled.
“We don’t have any policies,” Bhola said. “We don’t know what happened to this man. We don’t know what legitimate cause on this campus is.”
Members of C.O.D.E. addressed a range of other issues as well, including recent changes to Occidental’s amnesty policy which have gone into effect, but which the administration has not yet specifically outlined in any correspondence to the general student body. According to C.O.D.E., these changes give LAPD a certain amount of jurisdiction at Occidental. The current Alcohol and Other Drugs Policy, which includes the Medical Amnesty Policy, can be found on Occidental’s website.
“We need to know that Campus Safety has our backs,” Bhola said.
During the second part of the teach-in, Bhola invited audience members to tell personal stories about discrimination they faced or witnessed at Occidental.
Theophilus Savini (senior) recounted a story of being stopped by Campus Safety so that they could see what he was carrying in a CVS bag. He said he felt unjustly targeted as a queer student of color.
C.O.D.E. member Nina Reynoso (senior) encouraged the onlookers to come forward with their own stories at the teach-in or to discuss any diversity-related concerns with C.O.D.E. members. She cited the difficulty C.O.D.E. has had in establishing a record of Campus Safety’s mishandled incidents with minority students.
“They should be held accountable,” Reynoso said.
After the teach-in concluded, a student who asked to remain anonymous said that she believes the administration should release a statements when events like the Sept. 5 arrest occur on campus. Though she expressed confidence in her own ability to deal with Campus Safety, she voiced concern about the pattern of discrimination C.O.D.E. brought attention to.
“As a white woman, I feel Campus Safety would treat me well,” the anonymous student said. “I would not call them if it would jeopardize the people around me.”
In response to these allegations, Chief of Campus Safety Victor Clay said he would need to conduct an investigation of the incidents brought up by students before he could take any sort of action.
“Right now I have no facts to corroborate [the stories],” Clay said.
At C.O.D.E.’s meeting Thursday evening at 8:30 p.m. in Johnson 105, students discussed plans to move forward, including getting support from alumni and informing students of their rights under the law and campus policies. According to Reynoso, alumni have already begun to tell the administration to listen to student demands.
The meeting ended with the group making a list of possible actions, including hand-delivering complaints to the Campus Safety office, staging a sit-in in the Arthur G. Cons building, encouraging students to record events like the arrest and interrupting meetings of the campus deans.
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