The Thin Black Line: How Black Housing Staff Make Meaning of Their Encounters with Campus Police
University of Kansas
Educational Leadership and Policy Studies
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This study explored how black housing staff at predominantly white colleges in the Midwest thathave their own campus police departments, engage, and interact with police and make sense of their beliefs about police in their work and personal lives. The existing literature on-campus police, student housing staff roles, the role of housing staff with campus safety, and the historicalcontext of the relationship between black Americans and the police inform this study. This qualitative study used interviews with 13 black housing professionals worked at colleges and universities in the Upper Midwest Region- Association of College and University Housing Officers (UMR-AUCHO and the Great Lakes Association of College and University Housing Officers (GLACUHO). The major findings of this study are that participants wanted to be involved in the study because it gave them a place to share thoughts about working with police and their encounters with police. Participants felt that the purpose of campus police was to protect and ensure the safety of the university community from outside threats and identified this as complicated when thinking of campus police in the same way as municipal police. Further, participants shared narratives of the difficulty of building partnerships with the campus police and the challenges of working with them. This study also found that participants identified that a core aspect of their interactions with police is in advocacy and protecting black students.
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