BSU calls meeting to resolve issues seen with University handling of intramural brawl

Members from the Black Student Union, Office of the Dean of Students, the Oregon Daily Emerald and the Department of Public Safety met in the EMU’s Ben Linder Room on Wednesday night to discuss issues surrounding the coverage and handling of events from an intramural basketball brawl last month.

Two University students, Amin Tufa and Shamsu Said, were detained after a fight broke out when University junior Lee Van Pelt tackled Tufa. Van Pelt claimed he saw Tufa foul his teammate hard. DPS responded and confiscated a cellphone that belonged to Said after officers saw that Tufa’s brother Abdul was videotaping the incident. @@*[email protected]@ @@*[email protected]@ @@*Van*[email protected]@

The meeting began with criticism about the Emerald’s coverage of the event. Students and BSU members said the Emerald’s presentation of the fight portrayed black students in a stereotypical manner.

“After reading the Emerald and seeing the pictures and comments that were made about the story, I realized there needed to be a conversation,” said Kendaris Hill, University senior and former BSU president, who organized the meeting. @@*[email protected]@

Students were concerned about the Emerald’s placement of a photo of Tufa being taken into custody by DPS officers next to a headline from a different story about crime in the West University neighborhood. BSU members said the newspaper layout stereotypically associated a black man with crime.

“When I saw that, I was appalled,” BSU member Alexis White said. @@*[email protected]@

Emerald Editor-in-Chief Tyree Harris responded to concerns about the articles and photos.

“The story was clearly questioning everything involved in the situation,” Harris said. “Nobody in the newsroom was trying to portray this story in a stereotypical way.”

Tensions were especially high when University graduate student Miles Crumley questioned DPS about how it handled the event, specifically about seizing Said’s cellphone. @@*[email protected]@

“It’s not wrong to videotape us (DPS). That’s OK,” said Carolyn McDermed, acting chief of DPS. “The cellphone was seized because it contained evidence of the crime. It was pertinent to the case.” @@[email protected]@

DPS still has Said’s cellphone, and is waiting to obtain a search warrant from Eugene Police Department to look through it.

DPS spokesperson Kelly McIver took suggestions from students on how DPS could communicate better with students. BSU members suggested DPS come to BSU meetings and introduce themselves. They also suggested that DPS officers undergo more intensive cultural competency training — especially if DPS officers begin carrying guns, which concerns the BSU.

At the end of the meeting, Director of Student Affairs Robin Holmes said she will work to increase BSU’s relationship with DPS. @@[email protected]@

“We’ve had good relations with DPS so far,” Holmes said. “There needs to be results and there will be results.”

Both Said and Tufa attended the meeting and declined to comment to the Emerald. No charges have been made against them. McDermed said it was an ongoing investigation.


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Josephine Woolington

Josephine Woolington