Creighton’s Public Safety is continuing its racial bias training program for a second year since its inception last year.
The program was founded in the fall of 2019 by Michael Rein- er, the Assistant Vice President of Public Safety, Dave Dibelka, the Associate Director of Public Safety, and Becky Nickerson, the Director of the Creighton Intercultural Center.
According to Reiner, the program was initially created because he felt it was necessary to get all the training possible to improve the Public Safety team.
As he spent more time working for Creighton, however, he realized the importance of racial bias in regard to safety on campus.
“The thing that drove it home to me here at Creighton was that we would get a call of a suspicious person on campus,” Reiner said. “And when you start ask- ing the caller what makes them suspicious, a lot of the time, it wasn’t what they were doing, but who they were. Everybody has these biases, so I wanted to make sure that my team wasn’t assuming that somebody is up to suspicious activity just because of the way they looked or who they are.”
Becky Nickerson, the coordinator of training the officers in the program, explained how this year’s training was different.
Recorded lectures and zoom discussions replaced physical sessions because of the pandemic.
By utilizing the internet, Nickerson detailed how they could have conversations with the officers through multiple online sessions.
“It’s important for us to engage in conversation, to be vulnerable, to share what we are worried about, and how to take care of students,” Nickerson said. Nickerson said the Intercultural Center met with students after the death of George Floyd and communicated with Public Safety about that student feedback.
“In response, Public Safety also shared their own concerns and how they plan to create student relationships ahead of time to break down some of those barriers,” Nickerson said.To further explain the mission of the program, Dibelka emphasized the relationship between students and Public Safety.
“Our mindset is a guardian mindset, not a warrior mindset. We aren’t at war with anybody; we’re really here to protect the students, faculty and staff at Creighton,” Dibelka said.
Adding to this, Nickerson expressed her hopes for the future of racial bias training.
“My hope is that we raise awareness because part of implicit or unconscious biases is that we don’t know we have them,” Nickerson said. “We have to learn how to move forward together because it’s not an us versus them — it’s just us.”