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Miami’s AAUP responds to new reporting arrests policy

In response to a new mandated arrest reporting policy implemented by Miami University, the Advocacy Chapter of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) is calling for a faculty assembly on Sept. 10 to send the policy back to University Senate for further discussion.

Miami's new reporting arrests policy states employees of the university must "report any formal police report, arrest, charge or indictment for alleged criminal conduct ... to the Office of General Counsel, within three working days of the police report, their arrest, charge or indictment."

Employees must also "report when they have knowledge of a formal police report, arrest, charge or indictment of a faculty or staff member for alleged criminal conduct."

The new reporting arrests policy adds specific guidelines to already existing university policies. The online server EthicsPoint said, "[E]mployees and students are expected to report good faith concerns about illegal, unethical or otherwise inappropriate behavior in violation of Miami policies."

There is currently no time frame as to when employees must report or self-report.

These changes to Miami's policy provoked Miami's AAUP chapter to raise awareness of the new changes, gain support from other faculty members and advocate to send the policy back to Senate to reassess.

The policy was first introduced on the consent calendar in April 2019. This method was "worrying" to AAUP president Cathy Wagner because it was placed there instead of as a regular agenda item, she said. "Any items on [consent calendars] must be approved all at once … with no discussion. It can happen in seconds."

"Our main concern is the pattern of rule-making that is increasing [along with the] surveillance culture atmosphere at Miami," Wagner said. "We're already mandatory reporters for Title IX, which is not about increasing safety of anybody; it's about reputational management and liability protection."

In an email sent to faculty on Sept. 2, Wagner asked for at least 250 faculty members to attend the Faculty Assembly taking place Sept. 10 "to send the overreaching, unnecessary, risky to employees' 'reporting arrests' policy back to senate."

Wagner said "all employees are at risk under this policy," but specified race and sexual assault survivors as points of contention in the email as well.

"Let's say a black faculty member is misunderstood by a police officer to be behaving aggressively," she said in the email. "If the police officer files a report or makes an arrest, not only would the faculty member have to inform university counsel, but counsel would be empowered to recommend suspension or dismissal of the faculty member."

In New York City's 2018 year-end report, black individuals made up 49.4 percent of suspects and 42.1 percent of total arrests, while white individuals were 15.7 percent and 18.2 percent, respectively.

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With sexual assault victims, "within three days (in what is likely to be a traumatized and confused state) the survivor must file an additional report with university counsel or … face the possibility of discipline up to and including dismissal" since they did not report misconduct by another faculty member, Wagner explained.

The National Sexual Violence Resource Center reported, "[R]ape is the most under-reported crime; 63 percent of sexual assaults are not reported to police."

Daniel Hall, professor of political science at Miami's regional campuses, wrote an opinion column for AAUP titled "Spyami."

"I believe this policy needs a more critical review," he wrote, "and I encourage you, regardless of your position, to attend and to take part in this important discussion."

He highlights three main issues with the policy, saying it is "over-broad, unnecessary and threatens academic freedom, undermines relationships and creates an oppressive workplace."

To send the policy back to the university senate, 25 percent of continued faculty must attend the faculty assembly.

Of the 376 continued faculty throughout Miami's campuses, 250 need to be present.

"Faculty are allowed to … request that an item approved by university senate be withdrawn, then faculty can vote to discuss it," Wagner said.

The Faculty Assembly will take place at 4:15 on Tuesday, Sept. 10 in the Shriver Admissions Auditorium.

"We would like to work in a culture of care and safety is promoted," Wagner said, "and not an atmosphere of fear and massive discipline."

Director of University News and Communications Claire Wagner declined to comment on the university's behalf.

"Next week this policy will be discussed at a Tuesday faculty assembly." Claire Wagner said. "I think we'll be able to share more information after that."