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University will no longer describe suspects' race in public safety advisories to avoid 'negative stereotypes'


'The proactive progressive measure balances public safety with the potential negative perpetuation of stereotypes'

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The University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) has halted using references to suspects' race, ethnicity, and national origin in public safety advisories in an effort to avoid "potential negative perpetuation of stereotypes," according to a report from the Young America's Foundation.

The shift in policy was put into effect in late January, when it was announced on the Facebook page of the UIC Office of Diversity, and was confirmed this week by a UIC spokesperson.

"Effective January 2021, the university will no longer routinely use race, ethnicity or national origin as a descriptor in public safety advisories," the University of Illinois at Chicago stated in an email and a public safety advisory.

Sherri McGinnis Gonzalez, senior executive director of Public Affairs at UIC, confirmed the change in policy to YAF.

"The university no longer routinely uses race, ethnicity or national origin as a descriptor in public safety advisories," Gonzalez said. "This decision was made after consulting with several members of the UIC community, including the UIC Police Department and our recently established Public Safety Board."

The Public Safety Board, which was formed in August, was established to "review UIC Department policies and procedures especially related to use of force, de-escalation protocols and police training." The board will also "review of UIC Police Department responses to any major incidents" and "review of UIC Police Department communication practices and policies."

YAF asked Gonzalez if the new practice of not listing a suspect's race or ethnicity would affect law enforcement's ability to apprehend culprits, to which she responded, "It is not expected that this decision will have an impact on UIC Police Department operations and the ability to apprehend perpetrators of criminal acts."

"The decision is a proactive progressive measure balancing public safety with the potential negative perpetuation of stereotypes," Gonzalez added. "Our goal is to make everyone feel welcomed and safe on the UIC campus.

"The advisories are designed to inform our community members so they can change their behavior as necessary to be conducive to the recommended safety measures in the UIC campus area," Gonzalez said, as reported by Fox News. "While we generally will no longer use race or other descriptors, we will include them if, given the totality of the circumstances, they can enhance immediate public safety and/or include differentiating characteristics."

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