Students demand Bates College 'halt' body camera funding for campus safety officers

546 Bates College students have signed a petition demanding a halt in funding for body cameras for the school's Campus Safety department.

Bates College has agreed to remove batons from campus safety officers, per other student demands in the petition.

Over 500 students at Bates College have signed a petition that demands a halt in funding towards the purchasing of body cameras for the Campus Safety department. The petition states that the cameras have "little effect" on the "violent conduct of police."

According to The Bates Studentthe petition is in response to the Bates College administration's interest in spending $100,000 on body cameras for Campus Safety officers.

Bates Leftist Coalition and the Bates Restorative and Transformative Justice Coalition created the petition after a March 5 incident on campus when two campus safety officers allegedly tackled a student. The groups state in the document that the body cameras do not change the "behavior and structure" of the Campus Safety department.

In addition, the petition also demands that the college take away "Batons and Handcuffs" from the department.

"Continuing to equip Campus ‘Safety’ officers with weapons and methods of restraint conveys the idea that they have a right and duty to assault students. This is inherently violent and oppressive, and it is better for the 'safety' of all students to reside on a campus without weapons and restraints used on students," the petition states.

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Sanika Shah, a founding member of the Bates Restorative and Transformative Justice Coalition, told the student newspaper that they created the petition to send a message: more funding for the Campus Safety department "is not the answer."

“We want to make it clear that more funding is not the answer and that students are watching and taking action. We are no longer going to tolerate inaction and performative action from the administration,” Shah told the Bates Student.

Following the petition and a student experience survey made by the Bates Restorative and Transformative Justice Coalition, Bates College had Sarah Worley, an external investigator hired by the institution after the March 5 incident, be available to all students. 

Gwen Lexow, the Title IX officer for Bates College, sent an email to all students that an external investigator, Sarah Worley, would like to speak with students about their experiences with the Campus Safety department.

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“Ms. Worley is interested in talking with any student who wishes to share their thoughts with her and hopes to have a broad cross section of students participate in this process,” Lexow wrote. 

During Worley's investigation, Vice President for Campus Life Josh McIntosh wrote in a May 4 email to the campus community that Campus Safety officers will no longer have batons, according to the student newspaper.

However, McIntosh wrote that the officers would continue to carry handcuffs and said that a decision has not been made about the funding of body cameras.

Campus Reform reached out to Bates College for comment, but did not receive a response.