Student Media to host “Behind the Badge” forum to discuss student and police concerns on campus

Sparking conversation, understanding and providing common ground solutions is a primary goal for FIU Student Media, according to Editor in Chief Cayla Bush.

The senior broadcast media major hopes to use Student Media as a catalyst for students to understand more how the University operates and the functions of different departments while expanding their knowledge of topics that affect them.

In doing so, FIU Student Media will host “Behind the Badge,” a two-part forum between the FIU Police Department and student leaders. Bush says the forum is an effort to provide a middle ground and information to improve and strengthen relations between FIUPD and University Students.

“In laymen’s terms, the purpose is for students to feel comfortable asking questions of police, while allowing police the space to share their protocol and perception without judgement,” says Bush, “We want to humanize both sides, and to open the floor to discussion that will lead to a stronger, more secure feeling when the two parties interact.”

FIUSM started planning for “Behind the Badge” after the University hosted its own forum following recent nationwide conflicts between police officers and civilians.

“We went to the forum that was held after the Dallas police shootings and there were students who spoke up but there weren’t many black students,” said Robert Jarross, advisor for FIUSM. “So after that forum, we met as an eboard to discuss how the students were feeling.”

The eboard concluded that more needed to be done, according to Jaross.

Though the University’s previous forum included administration speaking out, Bush felt administration spoke at students, whereas “Behind the Badge” will grant them the opportunity to speak to students.

“I think there is genuine support and concern from administration, especially Chief Casas [of FIUPD], and this will allow more students to have that interaction and feel that support,” says Bush.

Casas, along with Daniel Capote of the Stonewall Pride Alliance, Prince Gafaru of the African Student Organization, SGC-MMC President Alian Collazo and SGC-BBC President Alhan Mejia, will speak at the forum.

“I’m very encouraged and eager to participate in the forum,” says Casas, “I believe FIU Police has a strong relationship with our community.”

Said relationship should not be taken for granted, according to Casas.

‘[We] need to work together to maintain avenues of communication to express our concerns and continue to learn from each other,” he says, “I hope to better understand what our students are feeling and are experiencing in the greater community and perhaps can in turn share some of my feelings and experiences outside of FIU.”

The forum will be hosted by Professor Antoine Hardy and both Bush and Jaross hope to schedule a “part two” to the forum sometime in the future. Part one is scheduled to take place Wednesday, August 31 from noon to 1 p.m. in SIPA 100.

“I am hoping that there is open conversation and that everyone walks away with a deeper understanding of both sides,” said Bush. “I’m also hoping that we can spark a discussion that very much needs to be had but do so in a space where everyone’s feeling are respected and observed.”

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