Case Western University announced Monday that it would shut down most of its operations during the Republican National Convention next week. The school cited safety concerns due to last week’s shootings in Dallas, Minneapolis and St. Louis, invoking the possibility of ‘disturbed individuals’ attacking campus. But students and faculty believe that the shutdown is directly tied to the 1900 armed police and National Guardsmen who will be housed at the school during the convention.
For faculty and students who are being asked by the administration to hold classes off campus or online, the interruption is more than an inconvenience. Many students, especially students of color, simply do not feel safe at the prospect of thousands of armed officers on campus. Some launched a Change.org petition asking the university to require the police to store their weapons off campus, refrain from the use of alcohol and drugs, and essentially, stay as far away from them as possible. Faculty, who had only eight weeks to teach summer courses and are now scrambling to squeeze their teaching within seven, are equally miffed. An anonymous faculty member asked in Belt Magazine:
“What are universities for? What are we teaching our students when we displace them from their dorms? When we claim to fear for their safety even though we ourselves have created the conditions causing us to fear for their safety?”
The symbolism of the university’s decision to host police while barring students and faculty from campus is clear. It also mirrors the approach taken by the city of Cleveland to prepare for the convention—half of downtown Cleveland will be restricted.