Tell President Kaler that class profiling doesn’t make campus safer

On Feb. 10, I climbed the stairs of Wilson Library to find a place to study, like I do every day. When I reached the third floor, I heard shouting, so I went to check it out. I found two University police officers towering over a man with a traveler’s backpack, bundled in winter clothes and sitting in a chair with a book in his lap. One of the officers told the man to get up and leave because he wasn’t a student. He refused, explaining that Wilson is open to the public. The officer then demanded that the man stand up and then slammed him into the wall after he did. After a rigorous pat-down, the man was escorted out of the library.

Appalled by what I witnessed, I met with representatives from the library and University police. The library expressed a commitment to defending its open-door policy that welcomes members of the community to take advantage of its vast resources and opportunities. UMPD, however, seems to view the issue of letting homeless people read books differently, despite there being nothing in library rules, University of Minnesota policy or state statutes that warrants the eviction of homeless people from public space.

What this really amounts to is the University’s latest attempt at exclusionary education. With all of its abundant resources and heartwarming discourse, the University purports to be a place of diversity, opportunity and access. But when it comes to people trying to learn who’ve been historically excluded from the University, the University builds walls. The University today doesn’t exist to provide educational opportunities — it exists to make money. And those who inhibit the University’s quest for profit are kept out.

This ugly scenario that I encountered in the library is a consequence of President Eric Kaler’s new security platform, an approach that ignores the root causes of crime, instead resorting to racial and class profiling and excessive policing. As students, it’s our responsibility to rise up and hold the administration and the police accountable for their actions.

Shortly after this incident, I was approached by another student who thanked me for getting involved. She explained that it’s not the presence of community members on campus that makes her feel unsafe but police officers running around with guns yelling at innocent people reading books that makes her feel unsafe.