Staff Editorial: AUSG’s AUPD community advisory board proposal remains unclear
The student body is owed concrete plans for reform
American University students’ relationship with the AU Police Department has been tenuous since a student was forcibly removed from their apartment by AUPD in September 2019. The “wellness check” resulted in a protest led in part by Black Lives Matter DC and a lawsuit from the student. AUSG President Eric Brock’s proposal of a community advisory board to oversee AUPD is the latest attempt to reform the department after the fall 2019 incident. This proposal, while welcome and forward-thinking, still leaves many questions as to whether this board will actually be implemented at AU and what that process will look like.
The majority of the Eagle Editorial Board is in favor of the oversight of AUPD, but many still believe the idea needs fleshing out. It seems that the only way this board would actually serve its role in holding AUPD accountable would be if students were able to vote for its members, perhaps by a ballot referendum.
AUSG’s main function is as an advocacy body for students. It doesn’t have the power to create long-term University policy on its own. What is the true weight of this request? The only thing that would truly shed light on whether a community advisory board is a possibility is a response from the University. Still, AUSG should clarify the details of what it imagines this board to be. Providing an outline with specific features of the board would at least inform students of what was asked of the administration. Currently, there is not enough information to form an opinion.
Furthermore, AUSG’s communication with students has been scant at best. Brock himself was elected in July 2020, so why has it taken this long for him to submit this proposal to the University? In an extremely tumultuous time, the student body has barely heard from AUSG and is virtually unaware of any advocacy efforts being made. AUSG is an organization that essentially gets paid to ensure the University is acknowledging and working toward what students need. Much more could have been and could be done to provide support for students going through a vastly different college experience than what they signed up for.
Brock’s proposal as it currently stands does not live up to the serious response required by the University to call for AUPD reform. Both the University and AUSG owe the entire student body more clarity and agency in decisions that directly affect the safety of students.