Cornell faculty approves resolution removing race from crime alerts

on Apr12
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Faculty at Cornell University have approved a resolution that would remove a suspect’s race from crime alerts, arguing that its inclusion encourages suspicion of Black people.

Passed last week, the Faculty Senate resolution removed race as an identifier and called out an alleged effect on Black people.

“[T]he knowledge that a crime may have been committed by a Black man does not make CRIME ALERT recipients any safer, but instead endangers Black people in the community, reinforcing the common phenomenon of violence against Black people on the grounds that they look like suspected criminals,” the resolution reads.

A background document added that Black men made up 75% of suspects whose race was identified since January 2019. Previous alerts, it said, were too vague in their descriptions.


One alert involved “an unknown black male approximately 5’7″ with an average build, dark skin, wearing all black clothing and a black mask,” according to the backgrounder.

“Considering that height estimations are untrustworthy, this could be almost any Black man,” it read. “This information is useless to protect the community from the perpetrator — unless one believes it is protective to mistrust or avoid all average black men, which would precisely constitute a racist prejudice.”

It added: “[T]he doubling of blackness — vaguely saying that a black male has dark skin, or superfluously reporting that a black male has black hair — argues to us that there is unexamined cultural work being done through these emails.”

“They feel jarringly ignorant of the drumbeat of anti-Black violence that we see every day,” the document said.


According to Cornell police, the university sends crime alerts as part of the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act.

“The purpose of the notification is to aid in the prevention of similar crimes by alerting the community about the incident and providing information on actions people can take to diminish their chances of being victimized,” reads the police website.

The university did not immediately respond to Fox News’ request for comment. It’s unclear whether the university has changed its practices since the resolution passed on April 7.

The move by Cornell faculty is similar to ones seen at other universities as well. Young America’s Foundation recently reported on the University of Illinois, Chicago, removing racial identifiers from its public safety advisories.

As Cornell noted, both Brown and the University of Minnesota have scaled back their use of racial identifiers in crime alerts. The latter’s policy reportedly allowed information on race if it was likely to lead to the suspect’s identification.

Bill Jacobson, a Cornell law professor who runs the site Legal Insurrection, told Fox News that the proposal would have the opposite effect of encouraging stereotyping based on other factors.

“The supporters of this resolution never demonstrated a causal connection between eliminating perceived race of a criminal suspect from police alerts and lowering risk to the community either in whole or as to minority communities,” he said.

“The entire purpose of such descriptions is to narrow the range of potential suspects, and that includes not only race, but also sex, height, weight, clothing, and other decriptions that take people out of the range of potential suspects,” said Jacobson. “The more identifying features, the less likely that negative stereotypes would play a role.”


A long list of race-based reforms have swept the nation and education in particular in the aftermath of George Floyd’s death last year.

Last fall, dozens of Cornell University faculty, staff, students and alumni signed onto a letter attacking “colorblind” practices, insisting that the university institute racial quotas and recruit “clusters” of non-White individuals.

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