Monday, June 30, 2014

Racial Profiling and Violence against Women in the Academy

Arizona State University has a little problem on its hands. Professor Ersula Ore, who is African-American, was arrested for "assaulting" a campus police officer after he roughed her up for jaywalking across a street that joins two halves of the ASU campus and she kicked him after he had thrown her to the ground. Her crime? Walking on a college campus while black.  In fact, she was leaving campus after teaching a summer school class.

Instead of dealing reasonably with this situation, ASU's administration has denied responsibility, saying that Professor Ore was a "private citizen" at the time, because she was crossing a public road, even though the policeman who engaged with her is a campus cop.  Really?  I mean--REALLY?

College and university administrations are finally getting unwanted attention for ignoring sexual assaults on their campuses, for ignoring the bullying of (usually female) professors and instructors, for exploiting contingent labor (i.e. adjunct and non-tenure-track instructors) and the local labor force that supplies them with clerical and maintenance staff.  And they don't like it because administrators are usually PART of the problem.  Most administrators are more concerned about the bonuses they will get from their boards of trustees than the people who actually are the heart and soul of their august institutions: their faculties.  They talk about promoting diversity while simultaneously encouraging their admissions offices to go for the affluent student over the student who might actually benefit hugely from higher education, but whose ability to pay is not as guaranteed and who might need more attention and guidance than a rich kid there for the social life.

It is time for everyone to pay attention: the United States is no longer a bastion of whiteness and the middle class is shrinking.  If we want to survive and thrive, we have to welcome people of color, women, and the non-affluent into our worlds of opportunity and, at the very least, we need to teach our police forces that behaving appallingly to a person who doesn't fit the affluent white profile is unacceptable behavior that will be punished.

Sign the petition.