I spent my time this weekend having e-versations with students, faculty and staff regarding the recent Collegian article. I am a firm believer that successful law enforcement is based on transparency, and I wanted to share with you my position.
A planned rally was to be held at the time of the trustees meeting, the rally was advertised through social media, local media and was an open invitation to attend. Due to the unknown size of the rally, I made a determination that it should be held in the Pier area (indoors, large area, access to University officials).
My decision created the condition for the allegations made in the article. I erred in that decision by not being inclusive. The decision was properly corrected a little while later when student government representatives brought their concerns to Dr. Bisese and with members of Dr Ayers’s staff, a decision was quickly rendered allowing the rally to be held throughout the building. At no time was anyone going to be arrested prior to, during, or after the event. I certainly recognize the fact that this has been a trying and stressful semester for many people.
So where do we go from here?
The debate and discussions regarding free speech and assembly began in earnest with the trial of John Zenger in 1735, and continues today. Unfortunately in the world we live in, time, place, and manner, do present prohibitions and challenges to the First Amendment. I also realize that because of the University of Richmond, members of our community may in the future, argue a First Amendment case in court or as a business C.E.O. make a decision with First Amendment implications or initiate a social cause designed to strengthen or minimize those prohibitions.
To provide a unique experience for our students, I am now planning to have representation from students in future planning events that may require a need for security or may be controversial in nature. I already have student representatives attend weekly staff/operations meetings so this is a natural growth for the department. UR student perspectives, early participation and being transparent when possible will go a long way to ensure this type of situation does not occur again.
Good luck to all on exams this week and safe travels.