FIUSM to facilitate student-police forum

As an editorial board, we were not impressed by the FIU held discussion “Reflections on Recent Tragic Events” Friday, July 8 with FIU police Chief Alex Casas, Vice President of Student Affairs Larry Lunsford, FIU President Rosenberg and Black Student Union President Nykeema Radway, leading the conversation.
We felt some of the responses of administration to the distressed students did not help to ease that distress, regardless of how well-intentioned they may have been. We feel that there was not sufficient conversation between FIU police and students, save for common rhetoric – although the conversation held by administration was nonetheless a start.
FIUSM will be holding its own forum during the fall semester to further progress the understanding held between FIU police and the students they serve. We hope to provide a space for open dialogue and to create active solutions based on the concerns of students and police.
Alexander Casas, chief of the FIU Police Department, along with the Allhan Mejia, SGC-BBC president, Michelle Juarez, SGC-MMC vice president, Daniel Capote, Stonewall Pride Alliance president and Malcolm Jones, the president of the Pan-Hellenic council have been confirmed as panelists in the upcoming FIUSM Forum and will be in attendance. BSU has declined to sit on the panel.
We have spoken to Casas who is on board with our goals, and is looking forward to creating solutions to enhance relations in our University community.
“I’m very encouraged and eager to participate in the forum. I believe FIU Police has a strong relationship with our community. However, we can not take this for granted and need to work together in maintaining the avenues of communication in order to express our concerns and continue to learn from each other. I hope to better understand what our students are feeling and experiencing in the greater community and can perhaps, in turn, share some of my own feelings and experiences outside of FIU,” Casas said to FIU Student Media.
The forum will be held for an hour and 30 minutes. The first 50 minutes will consist of a panel discussion which will be mediated and led by FIU Professor Antoine Hardy. Later, 30 minutes of the forum will be dedicated to an open audience Q&A, and the remaining 10 minutes will be used to discuss solutions to the concerns of FIU Police and students.
We hope that by facilitating discussion among the FIU community and by providing a space for honesty and sincerity, FIUSM can assist the students and the University in taking real steps towards change. Casas expressed his hopes for the student organized forum.
“I am particularly encouraged that this forum is student driven rather than driven by the administration. This is the way these types of events should originate, from a concerned and engaged student body looking to do positive things in our society. Anything that I can do to help, I will absolutely be a part of. I also hope to see this forum develop into a frequent occurrence, perhaps a monthly open forum with the FIUPD or even a monthly open forum with the FIU administration – anything that engages those students who wish to participate, express concerns or ask questions of their University Police Department.”
We must remember in times like these that words are powerful – but only if they are used properly. Blanket statements and common rhetoric are tired and fruitless in the wake of tragedy. It is the bare minimum.
The editorial board at FIUSM believes that conversations need to be had in order to devise solutions and that solutions need to then be carried through. In exceeding the common rhetoric that is expected of us in these times to enact lasting change we will have taken a step forward.

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