The ASUW Student Senate convened for a meeting last night, asking for UW President Ana Mari Cauce to answer some questions regarding the Jan. 20 Red Square shooting.
Most of the questions posed over the evening revolved around UW resources, asking the administration to be more proactive than reactive. Many expressed concern for safety and frustration about the UW’s handling of incidents against and by students, like doxxing, threats, and knife-wielding.
“I’m someone who goes to the Q Center,” Jonathon Vogel began explaining to Cauce.
Vogel explained that approximately a week ago, a UW student, whom they identified as an active neo-Nazi, came into the Q Center armed with a six-inch knife — though he did not brandish it. The same student was seen filming and taking pictures of protesters earlier that day in Odegaard.
“Honestly, I believe he was emboldened by the fact there have been … support for these views,” Vogel said. “I want to know what the university will do to state it will not accept that kind of intimidation and violence on campus.”
Cauce never alluded to any intention of the university releasing a statement in her response.
“It’s bringing out the worst in a lot of people,” Cauce said of today’s political environment. “We do have very clear rules. I would assume this person was arrested.”
Vogel responded that the student was not arrested. A bias report was filed, and an email was sent to the head of the UWPD, Chief John Vinson.
“We’re not 9-1-1,” Cauce said to the audience. She expressed some frustration with being contacted by students when crime-related incidents happen on campus. “If a student is threatening with a knife, et cetera, we can do immediate action, including banning someone from campus. But we also have the Student Conduct Code that can sometimes takes longer to go through.”
It was asked of UWPD to have a presence at the Q Center. They currently stop by every hour, but the community’s members expressed that it’s tense for people to be policed for safety when they aren’t really comfortable with police in the first place.
The Pacific Islander Student Commission Director, Santino Camacho said that preventative measures could’ve been taken, and was concerned that they weren’t. One suggestion Camacho had: The Milo Yiannopoulos event could have been moved to a less prominent, conflict-prone building.
“I’m not trying to throw anybody under the bus,” Cauce responded, “but this was largely SPD. We did consult with both SPD and UWPD about the building, and they felt it was safer. They could manage it better. We were very much backed up that night by SPD.”
Cauce followed up those sentiments by saying people were prepared for demonstrations, and she thought everything was handled to the best of people’s abilities.
Also present for the Q&A was Alan-Michael Weatherford, a graduate student who was doxxed for speaking out in favor of immigrants.
“I apologize for not taking into account your reading schedule while receiving death threats,” Weatherford said to Cauce, in reference to emailing her about the issue around 9 p.m. on a Sunday. “I think it’s very easy for one to sit here and say ‘these are the resources that are available.’”
His experience thus far in addressing the doxxing has consisted of getting “ping-ponged” between various UW offices. Most of the work, he argued, has been put on him.
“I’ve had to do more research than I’ve ever had to do in terms of navigating these bureaucracies,” Weatherford said. “We have such reactionary logic in the academy to fix things as they happen instead of proactively. I’m still currently very busy taking care of your mess.”
Cauce responded that the UW resources don’t quite know how to deal with doxxing, and it’s a matter likely better suited for UWPD. She also expressed that Board of Regents members have been dealing with protesters outside their houses, even harassing their children.
“My hunch is that some ping-ponging will occur,” Cauce said, reiterating that students should call 9-1-1. “If you want to sit down and explain the ping-ponging, we could go through that.”
Another audience member brought up that many conservative students feel they’re not welcomed on the campus, which was met with a handful of laughs and scoffs from the audience. The person brought up the flyers disseminated about the UW College Republicans’ president, Jesse Gamble.
“We need to be certain to not create false equivalencies: Being called a racist is not the same as experiencing racism,” Cauce said, after explaining how one conservative student switched classes because they felt they were being harassed. “Universities are microcosms of society, and society is really polarized right now and we have to find a way of reaching across that polarization, because if we can’t do it here, it doesn’t say a whole lot for the rest of the world.”
Meanwhile, students from marginalized communities expressed they are feeling scared for their lives on campus.
“We definitely feel like sitting ducks in there,” said a UW student who frequents the Q Center and wished to remain anonymous.
Reach reporter Kelsey Hamlin at email@example.com. Twitter: @ItsKelseyHamlin