Independent Review Committee Update


 Brother Jed arrived on DePauw University’s Campus on September 23, 2015 and sparked controversy throughout the DePauw and Greencastle community.

On public sidewalks, Brother Jed and Campus Ministry USA began “preaching” what the opposition called “hate speech” towards students, and prompted a physical encounter with law enforcement that ended with a male student of color being pinned to the ground and handcuffed by a Greencastle police officer.

The events of Sept. 23 prompted the formation of the Independent Review Committee, which was created under former-president Brian Casey. The committee was put together to provide an analysis of the incident and recommendations for how the University should react and handle similar situations in the future.

DePauw’s director of Title IX, Renee Madison, and Director of Public Safety, Angela Nally, as well as President McCoy and members of his cabinet have been working since last year to complete all of the recommendations.

“I have been working directly with the appropriate cabinet colleges and with community members,” said McCoy.

The first recommendation was the creation of an Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Greencastle Police Department and DePauw’s Public Safety. The MOU is currently being finished and awaiting approval from both the University and the Greencastle community.

“We’ve always had a really good working relationship, and our officers have had that too, so it’s really not any kind of negotiation or anything like that, it’s more just putting pen to paper,” said Nally. DePauw hopes to have the document approved by the the Greencastle City Council and the City Board of Works by the end of the month.

The second recommendation was the Campus-Community Liaison Committee which was created to be a bridge of discussion between DePauw and Greencastle community members.

The committee is made up of members of the Greencastle community as well as students, staff and faculty from DePauw. This group has already met and will continue to meet quarterly throughout the year. The main goal of this committee is to maintain conversations and relationships between the Greencastle and DePauw communities

The third recommendation has already taken place on campus, with the first-years receiving a session about the Greencastle community on the night of their orientation. Greencastle Mayor, Bill Dory, the City Chief of Police, and the City Fire Chief spoke to first-years on Aug. 20. The discussion welcomed the students to DePauw and Greencastle and served to create a connection between first-years and Greencastle.

“It was so wonderful,” said Nally, “I thought the mayor was wonderfully genuine, and I think all of the the students felt welcomed by the mayor.”

Later, Public Safety and Greencastle Police officers went around to dorms, introduced themselves, and even participated in crafting events being held on campus that night. “They went to hang out and at least say hello,” said Nally.

The final recommendation was for the University to develop an on-call system in case another situation happened similar to the one on Sept. 23.

In order to prepare the on-call system, Public Safety and the Greencastle Police Department both underwent further training. “That has given us opportunities to work through scenarios we may not have specifically thought of before,” said Nally.

There was additional instruction about how to handle high-stress situations, especially crowd control. Furthermore, there is a group of professors who have also been trained, and are able to react to situations on campus before law enforcement arrives. The trained professors mediate in situations that may not necessitate police.

In addition to the recommendations made by the IRC, DePauw’s administration is working on creating a policy detailing how they will handle protests across its campus. “It just helps to delineate expectations,” said Nally, “So if you’re holding a demonstration, what does peaceful demonstrating look like and also how to counter demonstrate in a peaceful way so we don’t have any contentious scenes like we had before.”

The plans for the University involve a number of organizations. “That’s a moving fluid process, so we have a plan for the entire academic year for managing critical instance,” said Nally.

DePauw is also working on educating students about what protestors can and cannot do on school grounds. “I think a lot of students really did not understand why we couldn’t make people that they felt were being harassing and saying hateful things- why we couldn’t make them leave this private school,” said Nally.

The University as a whole feels the IRC recommendations will help in the long run. “Everything that they recommended will be useful and will be helpful, and it’s been a very productive process to work on the MOU and it’s always good to get more training, and it’s always good to revisit our critical incident response,” said Nally.

While the recommendations were accepted by the University, the criticism of Nally in the document was unwarranted, said some Administration members. “Those folks who know [Nally] will feel that it was probably heavy handed and perhaps a bit unfair,” McCoy said, “It's about doing the right thing for DePauw and she has certainly stepped up to do that.”

The main concern for much of the staff is the return of Brother Jed. “I don’t know if he will let us know if he’s coming back,” said Nally, “We’re not on his schedule on his facebook page, but we weren’t on his schedule before.”

[Brother Jed] came back for a second time last year, we were prepared and unified. If we include the first-years in this stance of solidarity, then Brother Jed will not get what he wants,” said junior Rachel Higson, “My only worry is the pain that hateful messages like his imprint upon on our students, that's something that no amount of preparation will ease.”

Although the recommendations are centered around what already happened at DePauw, many fail to realize Brother Jed protests across Indiana. “This is what he’s done for thirty years, he’s just never been at DePauw,” said Nally, “He’s already on his fall circuit and he could come tomorrow.”