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Fostering a Safe, Diverse and Inclusive WVU-FAQs

View the statement from WVU Police Chief W.P. Chedester.

 

Q. What is the racial and gender breakdown of University Police’s current officers?

A. Of our approximately 50 current active sworn officers within University Police, we have three African American males, one Asian American male and six female officers.

 

 

Q. Does University Police work with social services to de-escalate certain situations?

A. Yes. University Police officers frequently work closely with the Carruth Center and social workers/social services to handle several situations throughout campus, including the de-escalation of certain matters.

 

 

Q. What is the response within University Police to those who call to defund police departments?

A. Since our formation in 1961, University Police has worked hard to protect and serve West Virginia University’s students, faculty and staff. And our officers are committed to continuing to build strong ties with our campus community to identify their concerns, solicit their help and solve their problems.

University Police officers also support many University events and work to proactively address issues that may impact our campus. Examples include the work we are doing to promote anti-hazing, alcohol and drug prevention, pedestrian and driver safety, sexual assault prevention and much more.

Our officers are deeply disturbed and saddened by the horrible killing of George Floyd at the hands of law enforcement, and we stand united against the violence and racism, discrimination and bias towards Black people that has plagued our country for so many years. However, we do not believe defunding police departments is the solution to these problems.

 

 

Q. What would happen if you encounter a situation where a University Police officer shows bias towards certain groups?

A. We take matters like this very seriously, and any complaints are investigated to the fullest extent. If you encounter a situation where a University Police officer appears to show bias towards certain groups, please contact us immediately at 304-293-3136.

 

 

Q. Are the same University Police policies and training programs implemented within police departments at WVU's divisional campuses?

A. Yes. University Police policies and training programs are provided to all campuses through the WVU Police Training Division. However, certain policies and training may be adapted to fit the unique needs and circumstances of our WVU Potomac State College and WVU Institute of Technology campuses.

 

 

Q. How many hours of training do University Police officers receive?

A. When a University Police officer is brought on board, they undergo approximately one to two months of onboarding and initial training before attending the West Virginia State Police Academy for an additional four months of training. After graduating from the academy, all officers are required to complete an initial field training program that consists of a minimum of 14 weeks of training.

Our officers also are required to complete continuing education and in-service training at least annually on a variety of topics, including racial sensitivity, defensive tactics, arrest procedures, use of force and other related areas.

 

 

Q. Can you describe how University Police, the Morgantown Police Department, the Monongalia County Sheriff's Office and the West Virginia State Police collaborate on trainings to build and ensure consistency in response?

A. All University Police, Morgantown Police Department, Monongalia County Sheriff and West Virginia State Police officers are required to attend the West Virginia State Police Academy for training and certification. The field-training programs among these law enforcement agencies also are designed for consistency. Further, University Police frequently works collaboratively with these agencies on various training initiatives throughout each year.

 

Q. Does the University Police training for officers include de-escalation training? If so, can this training be offered to the broader community?

A. Yes. University Police officers are required to complete de-escalation training, and we currently are working on making this training available to the broader community.

 

 

Q. Do University Police officers wear body cameras? If not, do you have any plans to wear them?

A. Yes. All University Police officers wear body cameras and are required to turn them on for all active calls.

 

 

Q. Is there data available detailing how many racial and ethnic students have been stopped and frisked, cautioned or questioned?

A. Due to system limitations for logging incidents, this data is not currently available. However, in the interest of transparency, we are working with our vendors to explore how we can make this type of information more readily accessible.

 

 

Q. When was University Police’s policy on use of force last updated? Is it available to the public?

A. The University Police policy on use of force was last updated in February 2020, and our policies are reviewed every two years. In the interest of transparency, we are working to make this type of information more readily accessible on our website; however, anyone currently can request a copy of our policies by calling 304-293-3136 or emailing police@mail.wvu.edu.

 

 

Q. Does University Police use choke holds and knee restraint to the throat/neck?

A. No. University Police officers do not use choke holds and knee restraint to the throat/neck and are expected to use the least amount of force necessary to bring a situation under control.

 

 

Q. Are University Police officers screened for racial bias and psychological disorders?

A. Yes. All University Police officers are required to undergo personality and psychological testing by a certified psychologist who is specially trained to determine fitness for duty for police officers.

 

 

Q. What mental health resources are available and encouraged for University Police?

A. As West Virginia University employees, University Police officers have access to the resources available through the Faculty and Staff Assistance Program and the Carruth Center.

 

 

Q. Is there oversight to ensure when a domestic disturbance call is placed to University Police, a report is filed? Who is involved in this process?

A. Yes. When University Police receive any domestic disturbance call, it automatically is logged within our system. Depending on the nature of the call, we work collaboratively with various agencies across the University and within the community (e.g., the Division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion’s Office of Equity Assurance for Title IX related matters, the Office of Student Conduct, the Rape and Domestic Violence Center, etc.)

 

 

Q. Who reviews complaints on use of excessive force?

A. Any complaints are reviewed by our command staff and a cross-functional team of University representatives. If a complaint is found to be valid, appropriate disciplinary action is taken in accordance with WVU and departmental policies.

 

 

Q. How many complaints of use of excessive force have been filed against University Police in the last five years?

A. University Police has received one complaint of use of excessive force in the last five years.

 


 

Q. What tangible programs have been developed, implemented and are ongoing to support Black men on this campus?

A. The Division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion is in the process of revamping and unveiling a mentorship program for Black men to announce for the fall. The hope is that we can use multiple partnerships – with Center for Black Culture and Research as well as the RISE program among others – to create a meaningful model.

 

 

Q. How do you ensure that faculty of color are retained, not just recruited and/or hired?

A. As Vice President Poore mentioned during the Campus Conversation, WVU has not done enough on this topic, and we are ramping up efforts to intentionally recruit and retain Faculty of Color. The Division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and the Office of the Provost have been working since the fall on an intentional plan to recruit, garner feedback from Faculty of Color, and develop a plan to equip departments and units to support them. COVID-19 has delayed this process, but it is still in progress. We hope to have more updates soon.

 

 

Q. One way WVU can help to foster diversity within its departments is to increase stipends for graduate students and to set up well-structured mentorship programs. Does the University intend to set aside more of its budget to back up the spoken desire for change?

A. Competitive compensation for graduate students is a critical component to attracting the highest-quality graduate students and is a priority for our colleges and departments across the University. The Division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion has partnered intentionally with colleges across campus to develop DEI committees that are charged with taking a broad view of what steps must be taken to increase the number of underrepresented faculty, staff and students within their ranks. Both mentorship and funding have been identified by a number of committees. The Division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion has, and will continue to, work with our partners to identify ways funding can be secured and/or reallocated to better serve marginalized students.

 

 

Q. What steps are being taken by the University to implement cultural competency courses/diversity trainings within freshmen orientation classes?

A. The model for First Year Seminar (FYS) is decentralized – meaning every college individually sets the agenda for its courses. The Division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion has been working to engage the colleges and FYS coordinators to infuse diversity-related content beyond just one class on respecting differences, but it is a long process given our institutional size. If you are involved with developing FYS content, please reach out to J. Spenser Darden, director for Diversity Initiatives at jdarden@mail.wvu.edu.

 

 

Q. Are faculty members and staff at WVU required to take a diversity training?

A. At this time faculty and staff are not required to take a diversity training. However, several departments and colleges partner with the Division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion to host trainings throughout the year. Higher Level is a five-part series that was rolled out in the spring 2020 semester, and trainings were offered at several locations across the Morgantown campus. These trainings also have been moving online in response to COVID-19, and we will be building it out more quickly in the coming weeks and months.

 

 

Q. Will there be any online/Zoom DEI trainings provided in the coming weeks as we continue working remotely?

A. Absolutely. During the spring semester, the Division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion started the roll out of a new Higher Level training series, initially focused on implicit bias training. We not only will continue this training but will fast-forward future sessions. We also are working on a series of issue-focused panel discussions. Keep an eye out on ENEWS, UNEWS and our website’s Resources and Training tab for information about upcoming opportunities.

 

 

Q. Are there any plans for us all to work together to create a strategic plan that assesses, monitors and specifies a series of cohesive steps/activities including short- and long-term outcomes to improve DEI?

A. Understanding that capacity-building is central to the success of the diversity efforts on campus, the Division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion has been partnering with committees and task forces across academic and co-curricular units. These groups are charged with understanding challenges related to diversity in their particular units and developing programming, policy and knowledge required to address those challenges. While the committees and task forces have their own structure, focus and approach, each works in tandem with the Division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion to develop initiatives that are meaningful and responsive to each community. We have been planning to create an overarching DEI Council, to which all these groups can connect to help strategically drive campuswide progress. The establishment of this council is now being fast-tracked.

 

 

Q. What is being done to have transformative conversations with majority-identifying students?

A. The Division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion offers a variety of trainings throughout the year including topics, such as sexual harassment, sexual assault, accessibility/disability/ableism, LGBTQIA+ issues and race/racism. Faculty, staff and students are encouraged to request trainings via the diversity.wvu.edu website.

 

 

Q. What diversity training will the resident assistants receive this fall?

A. The Division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion has a sustainable relationship with the Housing and Residence Life office. Each semester, DEI provides a two-hour training to all resident assistants on bias, power and oppression, and confronting oppression to build a community.

 

 

Q. How does WVU address when members of the campus community post social media messages that appear racist? How does this relate to issues of free speech and hate speech?

A. As West Virginia’s land-grant university, WVU prides itself on being a diverse community of students, faculty and staff. The University values and supports all members of our community and appreciates the strength that comes from the opportunity to study, live and work with others who may have a different background or hold different beliefs from our own. To safeguard and promote the benefits of our diversity, it is important for every member of the Mountaineer family to embrace and live out the University’s core values of service, curiosity, respect, accountability and appreciation. These expectations are set at the highest level – the WVU Board of Governors. WVU Board of Governor’s Rule 1.6 states:

“WVU is committed to fostering a diverse and inclusive culture by promoting diversity, inclusion, equality, and intercultural and intercommunity outreach. The university does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, ancestry, age, physical or mental disability, marital or family status, pregnancy, veteran status, service in the uniformed services (as defined by state and federal law), religion, creed, sex, sexual orientation, genetic information, gender identity, or gender expression in the administration of any of its educational programs, activities, or with respect to admission or employment.”

WVU strongly supports free speech. The free exchange of ideas is at the core of higher education. This includes protecting the right of individuals to express ideas that may be offensive to others within the community. This can be hard but is an important part of helping members of our community learn to navigate in a world with a variety of opinions and beliefs – opinions and beliefs that, at times, can be polarizing.

At the same time, WVU recognizes ideas are sometimes expressed disrespectfully and can impact members of the community in negative ways. When this happens, members of the community can feel uncomfortable or even afraid. WVU also recognizes that free speech does not cover targeted speech or specific threats. There may be cases where there is actual danger. It is important for members of the WVU community to know their concerns are taken seriously and there are resources available to help. In some cases, they may wish to make a formal complaint; in others, they may wish to access services, such as counseling.

If a WVU student has witnessed or has knowledge of what they think may be a violation of the Campus Student Code, they can contact the Office of Student Conduct to discuss the matter with someone or submit a complaint.

Any member of the campus community who has witnessed or is aware of any of the prohibited conduct on Board of Governors Rule 1.6 is encouraged to report. If you or someone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, power-based personal violence, or discrimination or harassment, you can file a report with WVU’s Director of Equity Assurance/Title IX Coordinator.

 

 

Q. What plans are going to be put in place to ensure that symbols that represent hate are not placed in residence halls and windows?

A. This is a difficult question with a complex answer. Since symbols, such as flags, have been ruled by the U.S. Supreme Court as protected by the First Amendment and we are a public institution, there are limits on what action we are able to take. Our main tool is education – to teach our community what the symbols mean and that they are not insulated from critique.

 

 

Q. What are the divisional campuses planning to do when students arrive in August in regards to this topic?

A. The Division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion is a resource to all students, faculty and staff across all WVU campuses. We are committed to continuing to educate and empower our communities, as well as learn what challenges and cultures are present on each campus. While the Division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion doesn’t mandate what and how programming and outreach occurs on the WVU Institute of Technology or WVU Potomac State College campuses, we have committed partners that we have ongoing relationships with on each campus who have been developing plans to elevate these discussions. It is our hope that anyone who is interested engage us so we can help develop and facilitate a meaningful experience.

 

 

Q. What is DEI doing to ensure there is a level playing field in respect to contracts awarded to women and or minority alumni business owners?

A. While this process is primarily spearheaded by the WVU Procurement, Contracting and Payment Services team, we assist with marketing and outreach efforts the University intentionally targets toward women-owned and minority-owned businesses. We also provide ongoing guidance to WVU on how to engage women- and minority-owned businesses and seek to identify processes that may disparately affect these business-owners.

 

 

Q. What does the institution plan on doing to further the education of those who fail to recognize white privilege or may not understand how to serve as a quality ally to the Black community?

A. The Division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion recognizes the importance of creating an inclusive campus community where every person feels valued. Throughout the year, we host events, like Diversity Week, that promote and celebrate diversity on our campus. We also offer a variety of trainings throughout the year, including such topics as race/racism, LGBTQIA+ issues, accessibility/disability/ableism, and sexual harassment/assault prevention. The DEI committees across campus also are strategically situated to help lead these discussions within their own units and among their own colleagues and students.

 

 

Q. What can students do to make long-lasting, positive change in regard to these issues?

A. Continue to speak up and voice your observations and concerns. Then take the next step to working within student organizations, with the Student Government Association, and others to develop concrete proposals and suggestions. The Division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, along with the many DEI committees within colleges, schools and other parts of the University, welcomes student initiative and involvement in crafting the long-lasting, positive changes we all want to see. If your college or school does not have a DEI committee, ask for one to be established.

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