Allegations of racial profiling during a University Police traffic stop are headed for investigation at the state capital.
The assertion that a faculty member of color was placed in handcuffs, searched for weapons and released without reason has been turned over to the California Deputy Attorney General, according to University Spokesperson Matt Lazier. The case was sent at the end of Fall quarter.
In addition, the matter has been brought to the university’s Office of Equal Opportunity for investigation.
California Faculty Association (CFA) President and history professor Lewis Call said the union was notified of both investigations. Call said the union intends to cooperate with the investigations, but plans to let the faculty member who reported the alleged incident decide what information is shared.
“Our primary concern, as always, is for the safety and security of the faculty member,” Call said. “The faculty member will determine what information we release, and when.”
So far, the union has not released any additional information to University Police. Lazier said the university remains hopeful the union will come forward with information about the incident.
The name of the faculty member has not been disclosed due to privacy and retribution concerns, according to Call.
The attorney general’s office is unable to confirm or deny an ongoing investigation, according to a spokesperson.
Administration responds to the allegations
The faculty union announced the incident in an email to all union members Thursday, Nov. 14. Cal Poly administration did not learn about the incident until the union email was sent, according to Lazier.
In addition to describing the incident, the email said the faculty member continues to fear being randomly stopped again by campus police and said they came to the union because of their loss of confidence in Cal Poly administration.
The following day, President Jeffrey Armstrong sent a campus-wide email stating an initial search through fall quarter incidents found no traffic stop or other UPD interaction matching the description. The email also detailed plans to investigate the incident.
Armstrong continued to call the union’s accusations destructive to campus climate. The email said the university found it “frustrating” that the union refused to provide additional details about the incident when such a serious allegation has been raised.
The union responded to Armstrong Monday, Nov. 18 in a second email to all members. The email said that instead of addressing factors that might drive a faculty member to choose not to report an incident to the university, the president chose to criticize the CFA for taking action to help the faculty member.
“We are disappointed in President Armstrong’s response to our message,” the email read. “The President appears to blame CFA SLO for raising this important issue.”
Despite the university’s initial response, Call said the faculty union is satisfied that the university is following the investigative procedures described in their Collective Bargaining Agreement and in the relevant California State University executive orders.
“We look forward to the completion of the investigation by the [Office of Equal Opportunity] and [attorney general], because once that investigation is done, the University will be able to address [the CFA’s] grievance regarding alleged racial profiling,” Call said.