Racial tensions boil over at Arizona State

An ASU professor has reignited the controversial issue of racism at the university

Francisco Dominguez, Reporter

For many people, racial tensions are nonexistent, but for others it’s their daily reality.

On May 20, Arizona State University police officer Stewart Ferrin thought he was doing just that when he stopped Assistant Professor Ersula Ore for jay walking across College Avenue in Tempe. Officer Ferrin did not think a simple stop would turn into a racial issue.

At first, professor Ore’s and officer Ferrin’s case did not catch much attention, but once the police camera video surfaced on the internet her arrest became national headlines. The video shows professor Ore resisting arrest and being slammed to the ground by officer Ferrin. After the video surfaced, many people questioned the actions of officer Ferrin.

On June 30, ASU released a statement.

According to the statement, officer Ferrin was patrolling the area when he almost hit Ore with his police car. It is at that time, that he told her to walk on the sidewalk, but Ore refused. Officer Ferrin then arrested Ore. Furthermore, she was charged with assaulting a police officer, resisting arrest, refusing to provide identification and obstructing a highway or public thoroughfare.

In the statement, ASU addresses the case of professor Ore, but never the bigger issue: race.

The case of officer Ferrin and professor Ore has stopped being just a normal police case and has become a black women vs. white cop case. In the eyes of many African Americans, professor Ore is getting unjust treatment. For example, according to an article on the Arizona Critical Ethnic Studies network (AZCES) website, Ore has been treated very unfair by the media. AZCES claims the media portrays Ore as a criminal, while outlets portray officer Ferrin in a much more sympathetic way.

Whether or not that is true, there is still an issue to be resolved at ASU.

Current ASU student, Rashaad Thomas believes there is a growing problem with race at ASU. He has experienced firsthand what it feels like to be profiled because of a person’s skin color.  Thomas recalls an experience where his skin color made the people surrounding him feel unsafe.

“I was getting off the bus and there was white lady and a white man that got off on the same stop. We were just on campus. We were all going in the same direction. The white lady was in front of me and the white guy was behind me. She noticed I was behind her and then clutched her purse tight. And so, she kept walking. And I noticed that she felt uncomfortable because she constantly looked back.”

According to Thomas, he gave her the benefit of the doubt at first because there is such a high assault rate on women at ASU. Thomas went around her and then looked back and realized she had let go of her pure. It was that, he realized something was going on.

Thomas believes she wasn’t afraid of him because he was a man, but because he was African American.

According to Thomas, he is not only African American who feels this way.

Thomas’ experience raises the question of racial bias on college campuses.

However this isolated experience does not prove that it’s a widespread problem in local college campuses.

Officer Les J. Strickland is the commander of the Scottsdale Community College public safety office. Under his authority as Commander at SCC, he does not recall an accident of racial misconduct being reported.

“Not one I remember. I can’t say it’s never happened. I’ve been here four years. Not in my tenure here.”

According to Commander Strickland, public safety does not care about a person’s race.