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Letter to the community regarding the Community Board on Public Safety

Dear Stanford community,

Recent tragic events have put a spotlight on the issues of police brutality and racial disparities in law enforcement and the justice system in this country. We have witnessed acts of anti-Black racism, hatred, and violence that have shaken us to the core.

At Stanford, we are committed to maintaining a healthy and safe environment in which all community members can thrive and are able to live without fear of racism, discrimination, harassment, and violence. As part of this commitment, we must ensure that our public safety policies and practices are consistent with the university’s mission and values.

Last year Black student leaders and university administrators began a dialogue on ways that we could better support the Black community and continue advancing the critical goal of creating a more inclusive environment on campus. We have discussed many important initiatives with them in the intervening months. In light of the profound events and discussions taking place across our country, the students recommended, and Provost Drell and I agreed, that these initiatives need to be accelerated and implemented immediately.

To that end, today I am announcing the establishment of a Community Board on Public Safety. This board will be tasked with building relationships and fostering communication and trust between Stanford’s Department of Public Safety and the broader campus community. It will identify issues of safety, make recommendations, and provide an avenue for regular community feedback. Among its responsibilities will be:

  • Providing counsel to me and other university leaders on community safety and campus policing
  • Fostering belonging and nurturing a greater sense of safety among students of color and underrepresented, non-traditional, and marginalized communities on campus
  • Assessing the needs and concerns related to policing, community safety, and equity of experience among students, faculty, and staff
  • Reviewing data on campus safety, including data disaggregated by race, gender, and other demographics
  • Recommending public safety policies
  • Promoting accessibility and transparency to the campus community through open meetings, forums, and listening sessions to discuss experiences of community safety and community-centered approaches to improving and/or maintaining community safety

You can read the full charge of the Community Board on Public Safety here.

I will appoint the members of this board, which will consist of at least three faculty members; three staff members; four students, both undergraduate and graduate; three staff within the Department of Public Safety; and a member of the broader community. The board will be co-chaired by a member of the Department of Public Safety and a university staff or faculty member. We will announce the appointments sometime this summer, and work will begin right away.

As I said, this is only the first in a series of initiatives we will be announcing in the coming days to confront anti-Black racism on campus and in our communities as we focus on the critical issue of racial justice. This moment in history makes it clear that we must enhance our efforts to fully create the kind of campus culture where all Stanford community members feel they belong, feel safe, have a voice, and are actively engaged in the institution. I look forward to working closely with the new Community Board on Public Safety, as well as with existing student, staff, and faculty leadership, to help advance that goal.

Marc Tessier-Lavigne